Journal of Medieval Military History: Volume XXI [XXI] 9781783277506, 9781805430391

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Journal of Medieval Military History: Volume XXI [XXI]
 9781783277506, 9781805430391

Table of contents :
Front cover
Contents
Illustrations
1: Capturing Jerusalem
2: The Impact of Victory and Defeat on the Military Orders’ Public Image
3: The Military Resources and Strategy of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1187–1244
4: Philip II’s “Eye of Command” and the Battle of Bouvines
5: One Monarch’s Ban on Illegal Artillery and Castle Use in the Medieval Crown of Aragon
6: The Sack of the “City” of Limoges (1370)
7: Dismounting in the Age of Chivalry
8: Conflict Analysis and a Case Study of Agincourt, 1415
List of Contributors
Journal of Medieval Military History

Citation preview

JOURNAL OF

Medieval Military History Volume XXI

JOURNAL OF MEDIEVAL MILITARY HISTORY

Editors Clifford J. Rogers Kelly DeVries John France ISSN 1477–545X

The Journal, an annual publication of De re militari: The Society for Medieval Military History, covers medieval warfare in the broadest possible terms, both chronologically and thematically. It aims to encompass topics ranging from traditional studies of the strategic and tactical conduct of war, to explorations of the martial aspects of chivalric culture and mentalité, examinations of the development of military technology, and prosopographical treatments of the composition of medieval armies. Editions of previously unpublished documents of significance to the field are included. The Journal also seeks to foster debate on key disputed aspects of medieval military history. The editors welcome submissions to the Journal, which should be formatted in accordance with the style-sheet provided on De re militari’s website (www. deremilitari.org), and sent electronically to the editor specified there.

JOURNAL OF

Medieval Military History Volume XXI

Edited by

KELLY DeVRIES JOHN FRANCE CLIFFORD J. ROGERS

THE BOYDELL PRESS

© Contributors 2023 All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system, published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted, recorded or reproduced in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the copyright owner First published 2023 The Boydell Press, Woodbridge ISBN 978-1-78327-750-6 hardback ISBN 978-1-80543-039-1 ePDF The Boydell Press is an imprint of Boydell & Brewer Ltd PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK and of Boydell & Brewer Inc. 668 Mt Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620–2731, USA website: www.boydellandbrewer.com A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The publisher has no responsibility for the continued existence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this book, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate Cover image: Coll. Bibliothèques municipales de Chambéry, MS13, fo. 105r (circa 1170–1190). The Italian artist who illuminated this copy of Gratian’s Decretum beautifully captured the deadly seriousness of medieval warfare – for townsmen as well as knights. Image used by generous permission of the Bibliothèques municipales de Chambéry

Contents

List of Illustrations

vii

1. Capturing Jerusalem: the Fāṭimid/Seljȗk, Crusader, and Ayyȗbid Fortifications, Ditches, and Military Outworks of the City 1 Shimon Gibson and Rafael Y. Lewis 2. The Impact of Victory and Defeat on the Military Orders’ Public Image 75 Nicholas Morton 3. From Hattin to La Forbie: The Military Resources and Strategy of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1187–1244 97 Stephen Donnachie 4. Philip II’s “Eye of Command” and the Battle of Bouvines 129 Laurence W. Marvin 5. One Monarch’s Ban on Illegal Artillery and Castle Use in the Medieval Crown of Aragon and a Slowly Changing Royal Prerogative 147 Donald J. Kagay 6. The Sack of the “City” of Limoges (1370) Reconsidered in the Light of an Unknown Letter of the Black Prince 161 Guilhem Pépin 7. To Fight on Horse or Foot? Dismounting in the Age of Chivalry 181 Michael John Harbinson 8. A Battle is Its Ground: Conflict Analysis and a Case Study of Agincourt, 1415 227 Michael Livingston List of Contributors

259

Illustrations

1. Capturing Jerusalem: the Fāṭimid/Seljȗk, Crusader, and Ayyȗbid Fortifications, Ditches, and Military Outworks of the City 1.1 General view of the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photograph: UNC Charlotte’s Mount Zion archaeological expedition.) 1.2 Map of Jerusalem during the Fāṭimid to Ayyȗbid periods. (Drawing: Shimon Gibson.) 1.3 North-west angle of city (Tancred’s Tower) with rock-cut ditch and water channel. (Photograph: Shimon Gibson.) 1.4 Painting in the Collège des Frères of the original Tancred’s Tower seen towards the north-east, by an unknown artist. (Photograph: Shimon Gibson.) 1.5 Piers of Tancred’s Tower towards the north-east. (Photograph: Shimon Gibson.) 1.6 Schick’s plan of Tancred’s Tower and rock-cut ditch. Drawing: Conrad Schick, “Mittheilungen aus Jerusalem”, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins 1 (1878), Plate IV. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 1.7 The rock-cut ditch extending from the north-west angle to the New Gate in a pencil sketch by William Henry Bartlett from 1842. (Courtesy of Archival and Special Collections, McLaughlin Library, University of Guelph.) 1.8 Schick’s plan (top and bottom) of sections of the rock-cut ditch, with a built glacis (b) and an outer wall (c) to the east of the New Gate. Drawing: Conrad Schick, “Mittheilungen aus Jerusalem”, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins 1 (1878), Plate III. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 1.9 Schick’s sketch of rock-cut ditch and outer wall between the New Gate and Damascus Gate with possible postern. (Courtesy: Palestine Exploration Fund Archives: Schick/ 222/3.) 1.10 View of northern Old City wall towards the south-west with the buried ditch. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 1.11 Photograph by Henry Phillips of the outer barbican of the Gate of St. Stephen at the Damascus Gate. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

3 4–5 27 27 30

32

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34 35 37 37

viii Illustrations 1.12

1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19

1.20

1.21

1.22 1.23 1.24

Rock-cut ditch (“the pool”) seen from the west (Fig. 1.2: 20). (a) Louis Félcien de Saulcy de Saulcy, Voyage autour de la mer morte et dans les terres bibliques, exécuté de décembre 1850 à avril 1851 (Paris, 1853). (b) Photograph by Henry Phillips from 1867. (Both courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 38 Rock-cut ditch (“the pool”) in a photograph by Charles Bierstadt from 1874. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 38 Revetment wall and turret in Hamilton’s Sounding C. (a) view towards the east. (b) close-up showing the turret and revetment wall. (Courtesy: Israel Antiquities Authority archives.) 40 View of northern Old City wall towards the east with Birket el-Hijjeh in the distance. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 40 Rock-cut ditch at the north-east angle of the city towards the west, in a photograph by the American Colony from c. 1900. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 42 The southern edge of the rock-cut ditch close to the north-east angle of the city, in a photograph by Henry Phillips from 1867. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 42 View of rock-cut ditch at the north-east angle of the city towards the north, in a photograph by Henry Phillips from 1867. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 43 Plan and section of the tower on the east side of the Church of St. Anne. Drawing: Christophe-Edouard Mauss, La Piscine de Bethesda à Jérusalem (Paris, 1888). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 45 Sections through the east wall next to the Lion’s Gate in excavations conducted by Warren. Drawings: Charles Warren, Plans, Elevations, Sections, &c., Shewing the Results of the Excavations at Jerusalem, 1867–70 (London, 1884), Plate XVII. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 49 Plan showing excavations in front of the Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn. Drawing: Steve Patterson and UNC Charlotte’s Mount Zion archaeological expedition. (Reproduced by permission of the UNC Charlotte Mount Zion archaeological expedition.) 51 The earth-filled ditch in front of the Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn as revealed in UNC Charlotte’s 2018 season of excavations, looking west. (Photograph: Rafael Y. Lewis.) 52 A silver coin from the reign of Caliph al-Mustanṣir dated 1036–94, from the bottom of the ditch (Loc. 2060). (Photograph: Rafael Y. Lewis.) 52 A view of the Temple Mount excavations from October 1969, with the Fāṭimid or Crusader city wall seen center-right (with ladder against the north side). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) 55

Illustrations 1.25

1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29

1.30

1.31

1.32

Aerial views (a, b) of the Temple Mount excavations from the 1970s, showing the line of the Fāṭimid or Crusader city wall, the position of another wall at the south-west corner, and a tower at Dung Gate. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) Re-used ashlars from an Ayyubid tower situated on the southwest slope of Mount Zion. (Photograph: Shimon Gibson.) Tower “A-B-C” towards the north-east, in excavations conducted by Bliss and Dickie on Mount Zion. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) The north-west face of Tower “A-B-C” in a drawing by R. A. S. Macalister from 1902. No accession number. (Courtesy of Palestine Exploration Fund Archives.) Schematic map showing the various defensive features on Mount Zion under Fāṭimid (late tenth century) to Ayyȗbid occupation (early thirteenth century). (Drawing: Shimon Gibson.) Tower masonry at I’-J’ in Bliss and Dickie’s excavations on Mount Zion. Drawing: Frederick Jones Bliss and Archibald Campbell Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, 1894–1897 (London, 1898), 69. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) A fourteenth-century map of Jerusalem by Marino Sanudo. Drawing: Reinhold Röhricht, “Marino Sanudo sen. als Kartograph Palästinas”, Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 21 (1898). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.) Engraving by Jan Peeters of a view of Jerusalem from Mount Zion towards the east. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

6. The Sack of the “City” of Limoges (1370) Reconsidered in the Light of an Unknown Letter of the Black Prince 6.1 Map of Limoges, showing division into “City” and “Castle.” Map of Limoges (1670s–80s) by Jouvin de Rochefort, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, GE C-10997, via Wikimedia Commons. Image in the Public Domain. 8. A Battle is Its Ground: Conflict Analysis and a Case Study of Agincourt, 1415 8.1 The Crécy dead. (Michael Livingston) 8.2 Thermopylae. (Michael Livingston. Image © 2022 Maxar Technologies. Reproduced courtesy of Google Earth.) 8.3 The Phocian Wall. (Michael Livingston. Image © 2022 Maxar Technologies. Reproduced courtesy of Google Earth.)

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56 61 63 63

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67 69

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232 234 235

x Illustrations 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8

The Phocian Wall: a drone’s-eye view. (Michael Livingston) Roads to Agincourt. (Michael Livingston. Map data © 2022 Google Earth. Reproduced courtesy of Google Earth.) (Michael Livingston/Google Earth) Agincourt: The Vulgata. (Image from Livingston, Agincourt: Battle of the Scarred King © Osprey Publishing.) The De l’Isle map of 1704. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, MS GE DD-2987 (436), via Europeana.eu. (Image in the Public Domain.) Agincourt: an alternate hypothesis. (Michael Livingston. Map data © 2022 Google Earth. Reproduced courtesy of Google Earth.)

236 236 242 244 253

The editors, contributors and publisher are grateful to all the institutions and persons listed for permission to reproduce the materials in which they hold copyright. Every effort has been made to trace the copyright holders; apologies are offered for any omission, and the publisher will be pleased to add any necessary acknowledgement in subsequent editions.

1 Capturing Jerusalem: the Fāṭimid/Seljȗk, Crusader, and Ayyȗbid Fortifications, Ditches, and Military Outworks of the City Shimon Gibson and Rafael Y. Lewis

This paper attempts to draw together all relevant textual, archival, and archaeological information concerning the appearance of Jerusalem’s Fāṭimid and Seljȗk city defenses, including its multiple fortification walls and towers, ditches and outworks, on the eve of the Crusader conquest of that city in July 1099. What were the physical defensive impediments preventing the Crusader forces from getting close to the walls and gaining quick access to the city? Analysis of the textual sources is provided in this paper. What did the ditches and outworks look like, and how formidable were they? Details are provided based on recent archaeological excavation results, as well as from an examination of archival materials, some hitherto unpublished. New data is presented on the physical appearance and chronology of the previously unknown and elusive sunken ditch on the brow of Mount Zion at the spot where Raymond of St. Gilles laid siege to the city from the south. The paper also deals with what eventually transpired to the fortifications of Jerusalem under subsequent Frankish and Ayyȗbid rule. As we shall see, in the aftermath of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s conquest of the city in 1187, it appears that Jerusalem came to be protected from the south by two separate fortification walls.

Introduction This paper will address primarily the archaeological evidence of the defensive outworks and ditches of Jerusalem that would have been major impediments to attacking Crusader forces in June–July 1099. New information on the northern and southern ditches has now become available as a result of recent archaeological excavations conducted to the north and south of the city. A re-examination of archival materials on earlier work done in the nineteenth century helps to contextualize much of this new material. The northern ditch was established at the time of the Fāṭimid Caliphate, and it served as a major defensive obstacle at the time of the Crusader siege in 1099. Indeed, it was still there and needed to be overcome at the time of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s siege in 1187. It would appear that the northern ditch was abandoned following the destruction of the Ayyȗbid

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Shimon Gibson and Rafael Y. Lewis

fortifications in 1219/20, and that its infilling took place in subsequent Mamluk and Ottoman periods. The southern ditch, however, had a different history and for a long time it remained undetected by archaeologists, even though it was clearly mentioned in the anonymous Gesta Francorum as a defensive feature needing to be filled in by Raymond of St. Gilles (Count of Toulouse) to enable his assault on the southern city wall. A section of this ditch has recently been uncovered in excavations in front of the Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn (east of the present-day Zion Gate). This ditch was an essential part of the Fāṭimid southern defenses and numismatic evidence suggests it was dug at some point in time prior to 1094, but was then filled in not long after the Crusader conquest. Indeed, evidence suggests this ditch had already disappeared from view by the time of Baldwin III (c. 1152/1153). The southern line of the city wall was undoubtedly reused by the Franks, but was probably considered an inefficient or weak line of defense (Fig. 1.1). Consequently, following the conquest of Jerusalem by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn in 1187, a new southern wall was built in 1191 (587 AH) to surround the entire summit of Mount Zion, and it too was provided with a rock-cut ditch in front of it. This new wall did not replace the previous Fāṭimid-to-Frankish southern wall situated further north. In fact, we surmise the latter continued to exist as an “inner wall,” but with the new southern wall now serving as the “outer wall.” This paper includes a summary analysis of the primary textual materials pertaining to the siege of 1099, but more importantly it presents new information concerning the chronology, layout and characteristics of the three ditches surrounding the city walls of Jerusalem from the tenth to thirteenth centuries1 (Fig. 1.2). The general literature on the archaeological excavation of defensive outworks and ditches around cities/towns of Palestine from this time period is somewhat limited, and we hope the current paper is a step in the right direction.2 1

2

Our thanks go to colleagues for their help during the writing of this paper: Kay Prag, Yuval Baruch, Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, Omar Abed Rabo, Mohammad Ghosheh, Gabi Mazor, Alon de Groot, Giora Solar, Gerald Finkielsztejn, Amit Re’em, David Yeger, Robert Kool, Dieter Vieweger, Yehiel Zelinger, Annette Nagar, and Felicity Cobbing. Our thanks to Mareike Grosser for proofreading a final draft of this paper. Our sincere thanks to John France and the other editors of JMMH, and specifically to Clifford Rogers for his editing skills. The cost of producing illustrations was provided courtesy of CHANE and Gretchen Cotter. This paper is dedicated to Adrian J. Boas, whose book, Jerusalem in the Time of the Crusades (London, 2001) has been a major resource for scholars and students of medieval Jerusalem. For significant studies made in the past forty years on the 1099 siege of Jerusalem, see Joshua Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured: A Contribution to the Medieval Topography of the City,” in Peter W. Edbury, ed. Crusade and Settlement (Cardiff, 1985), pp. 1–16; idem, “Political History of Crusader and Ayyȗbid Jerusalem. The Conquest,” in The History of Jerusalem. Crusaders and Ayyȗbids (1099–1250), ed. Joshua Prawer and Haggai Ben-Shammai (Jerusalem, 1991), pp. 1–28 (Hebrew); John France, Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 355–84; and Benjamin Z. Kedar, “The Jerusalem Massacre of July 1099 in the Western Historiography of the Crusades,” Crusades 3 (2004), 15–75.

Figure 1.1  General view of the Old City of Jerusalem with the Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn excavations in the foreground. (Courtesy of UNC Charlotte’s Mount Zion archaeological expedition.)

Figure 1.2  Map of Jerusalem during the Fāṭimid to Ayyȗbid periods. (Drawing: Shimon Gibson.)

Key for Figure 1.2 (1) Tower of David and Citadel enclosure (2) wall beneath the Grand New Hotel (3) wall beneath the Latin Patriarchate and Knight’s Palace Hotel (4) present-day north-west Old City wall (5) outer wall (6) tower with flight of steps (7) water aqueduct from the Mamila Pool (8) tower (9) Tancred’s Tower at the Collège des Frères (10) water channel from the north-west (11) surmised line of wall (12) postern (13) outer wall and ditch (14) outer wall and ditch (15) outer wall/turrets and ditch (16) postern (17) outer wall and ditch (18) postern (19) wall with ashlars with mason’s marks and external piers (20) rock-cut ditch (“the pool”) (21) Jeremiah’s Grotto and rock-cut quarries (22) outer wall (23) outer wall and turret (“Sounding C”) (24) Herod’s Gate (25) wall (“Area B”) (26) “the reservoir” (Birket el-Hijjeh) (27) wall (“Areas A, C”) (28) surmised line of wall (29) rock-cut ditch (30) north-west tower (Burj al-Laqlaq) and rock-cut ditch (31) surmised line of wall

(32) Chapel of the Sheep Pool (33) tower (34) outer wall and postern (35) pool of St. Mary (36) Lion’s Gate (37) Golden Gate (38) Citadel ditch (39) tower (40) tower at south-west angle (41) segments of ditch (42) surmised line of wall (43) Belcaire postern/gate (44) Zion Gate tower (45) enclosure wall at St. Saviour’s (46) UNC Charlotte’s excavations in front of the Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn (47) wall and postern (“Area T4”) (48) St. Peter in Chains (“St. Peter ad Vincula”) (49) Burj Kibrit (50) corner of Nea Church (51) wall (52) tower (53) Dung Gate (54) wall from south-west corner of the Temple Mount (55) gate to Temple Mount (ez Zāwiya el-Khatniyya) (56) wall and turrets (57) Single Gate (58) water aqueduct (59) tower (60) tower (“A-B-C”) (61) rock-cut ditch (62) tower and wall (63) tower and wall (64) ditch (65) wall fragment (66-68) Byzantine to Abbasid city wall.

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Shimon Gibson and Rafael Y. Lewis The Siege of Jerusalem

The army of the First Crusade, having made its way through Asia Minor into Syria, conquering Antioch along the way, and with a disparate force made up of poor and foot-weary soldiers and with a divided leadership of embattled knights marched along the coast of Palestine with an ultimate goal of reaching Jerusalem. This the Crusaders finally managed to do, against all odds, on 7 June 1099. The task ahead of them was a daunting one: the city of Jerusalem was well fortified with strong towers and curtain walls, and with formidable outworks and ditches. It transpired that extensive defensive preparations had been made ahead of time by the Fāṭimid garrison, under the governorship of Iftikhār ad-Dawla, in order to withstand a long siege. The city had been taken over from the Turcoman Seljȗks a year earlier by al-Afḍal ibn Badr al-Jamālī, the Fāṭimid vizier of Cairo, and he was well prepared with sustaining supplies and large quantities of timber needed for making siege equipment, which probably ensured his success. The Crusaders, however, found the city surroundings unforgiving: lack of resources meant dangerous foraging expeditions had to be made into the hinterland to gather food supplies. There was also a lack of available clean water, since many of the cisterns in the countryside had either been blocked or, worse, poisoned. While they could reach the spring of ‘Ain el-Darrāj (Gihon) and the Siloam Pool, and also the well at Bir Ayyȗb, situated outside the city to the south,3 they were still in danger, particularly from deadly surprise attacks from Fāṭimid archers and by their partisan supporters hiding nearby. Water taken from these sources needed to be transported for quite a distance back to the Crusader troops encamped on the north side of the city, as well as to a second camp on the summit of Mount Zion. More importantly, however, Jerusalem’s hinterland lacked trees tall and straight enough for making timber to help build wooden siege machines and scaling ladders, which were vital for the efficacy of an attack on the city walls. The resulting conquest of Jerusalem by the Crusader forces on 14–15 July 1099 is a well-known and documented event that is described in a range of Western chronicles and in Muslim sources, and these confirm the basic tactics adopted

3

For Raymond d’Aguilers’s dramatic description of the intermittent availability of water at the Pool of Siloam: Historia Francorum qui ceperunt Iherusalem, XIV, trans. John Hugh Hill and Laurita L. Hill, Raymond d’Aguilers (Philadelphia, PA, 1968), p. 118. Bir Ayyȗb tends to be forgotten in the discussions on the availability of water sources at that time: Shimon Gibson, “Charles Warren’s Kidron Valley Tunnels, Bir Ayyub, and the Location of Biblical En Rogel,” in Exploring the Narrative. Jerusalem and Jordan in the Bronze and Iron Ages, ed. Eveline van der Steen, Jeannette Boertien, and Noor Mulder-Hymans (London, 2014), pp. 351–93. William of Tyre [hereafter WT] (writing in c. 1184), who knew the topography of Jerusalem and its vicinity extremely well, indicates (VIII.3) that the stopping-up of springs was made up to a distance of 5–6 miles around the city, and that this included cisterns and reservoirs (VIII.7); see WT, Chronicon, ed. Robert B. C. Huygens, with Hans E. Mayer and Gerhard Rösch, CCCM 63– 63A (Turnhout, 1986), pp. 385–87, 393–95.



Capturing Jerusalem

7

by the Crusader commanders at the different stages of the siege.4 The strengths, biases and weaknesses of these textual sources have been dealt with extensively by previous scholars.5 The long trek from Antioch to Jerusalem resulted in the loss of many lives, particularly among non-combatants. Hence, the actual number of the surviving force that eventually reached Jerusalem is unclear. It may have comprised 12,000 troops, most of which would have been foot-soldiers along with about 1,500 knights, but the number of accompanying non-combatants (clergy, women, and children) is unknown.6 This same uncertainty exists in regard to the number of city dwellers at that time (c. 40,000), which is debatable since some of the inhabitants may very well have fled during the course of the siege.7 Obviously, the northern flank of the city was the weakest and most 4

5

6

7

For summaries on the Crusader siege of Jerusalem and on the available written testimonies: Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured”; idem, “Political History of Crusader and Ayyȗbid Jerusalem”; France, Victory; Kedar, “Jerusalem Massacre”; and Conor Kostick, The Siege of Jerusalem: Crusade and Conquest in 1099 (London, 2009), pp. 174–84. See: Yuval Noah Harari, “Eyewitnessing in Accounts of the First Crusade: the Gesta Francorum and other Contemporary Narratives,” Crusades 3 (2004), 77–99; Marcus Bull, “The Relationship between the Gesta Francorum and Peter Tudebode’s Historia de Hierosolymitano itinere: The Evidence of a Hitherto Unexamined Manuscript (St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, 3),” Crusades 11 (2012), 1–17. Albert of Aachen (5.45) refers to 60,000 Crusader forces at Jerusalem but this is clearly an exaggeration: Albert of Aachen, Historia Ierosolimitana, ed. Susan B. Edgington, Albert of Aachen. Historia Ierosolimitana . History of the Journey to Jerusalem, Oxford Medieval Texts (Oxford, 2007), p. 403. Most scholars would countenance substantially lower numbers for the forces at Jerusalem: Prawer, “Political History,” p. 4 and note 16: 40,000 Crusader forces, half of whom were armed combatants, and 1,500 knights; France, Victory, p. 359: 12,000 armed men, 1,200–1,300 knights. Interestingly, Raymond d’Aguilers also mentions a figure of 60,000 but he is not referring to the Crusader force but to the number of people inside the city of Jerusalem – one also has to take into account the likelihood that this figure probably did not include women and children: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 125. Prawer is willing to consider a higher city population number for that time: “Political History,” p. 3, arguing that the original number of 20,000 was probably substantially increased by a flow of outside fighters who were let into the city ahead of the siege. However, there is little evidence for many outside fighters entering the city, and France thinks this 60,000 figure unlikely: Victory, p. 367. One should also mention the higher population estimate of 70,000 given by Ibn al-‘Ibrī: Tārīkh mukhtaṣar al-diwal (Beirut, 1992), p. 197, but a high number would only make sense if the city had had a peak population density in 1099, which we think was not the case owing to the probability that some of the inhabitants fled during the course of the siege (see next footnote). Hence, while we might opt for a possible figure of 40,000, the reality is the actual number of inhabitants was probably less than that. On the conflicting numbers of those that were massacred in the city in 1099: Kedar, “Jerusalem Massacre,” p. 74. While there is no direct evidence of any systematic evacuation of the Muslim or Jewish city inhabitants either prior or during the siege, some Christian city dwellers were sporadically evicted early on, fleeing to Bethlehem and other places, because of Fāṭimid suspicions as to their allegiance. Whether this led to the emptying of the north-western sector of the city, as Prawer once contended, is uncertain: “Political History,” p. 3. At the same

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vulnerable section of the city fortifications, since there were deep valleys that more or less surrounded the other three sides of the city. This part of the enceinte saw constant repairs and building works that were undertaken intermittently from just before the earthquake of 1033. It was here that al-Afḍal was successful in breaking into the city (29 August 1098; 491 AH) after a forty-day siege, and ultimately it is where the Crusaders decided to concentrate their main assault on the city.8 Secondary attacks conceivably might have been made from the north-

8

time, the city garrison was indeed boosted by an influx of Fāṭimid soldiers from places outside Jerusalem, as is attested by Albert of Aachen, Historia 5.44, tr. Edgington, pp. 399–401, but these numbers were relatively small. In the wake of the conquest of the city on 15 July 1099, with the annihilation of its inhabitants, we hear of the survival of a small number of Fāṭimid soldiers and local inhabitants who gathered together and were allowed to leave the Tower of David (miḥrāb dāud) and go to Ascalon in the company of their governor, Iftikhār ad-Dawla, following a promise of safe conduct received from Count Raymond of Toulouse. One wonders how large this group of people might have been: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 128, and Prawer’s assessment must be an exaggeration: “Political History,” 3. In this regard, Albert of Aachen speaks of roughly 400 Fāṭimid soldiers on horses managing to flee into the Tower of David immediately upon the Crusaders` entry into the city, and on their subsequent release as well: Albert of Aachen Historia 6.20, tr. Edgington, p. 429, 28; p. 439. There are conflicting views on the number of inhabitants who managed to flee the city, and whether any of them might have reached distant destinations such as Damascus and Baghdad: Daniella Talmon-Heller and Benjamin Z. Kedar, “Did Muslim Survivors of the 1099 Massacre of Jerusalem Settle in Damascus? The True Origins of the al-Ṣāliḥiyya Surburb,” Al-Masaq 17 (2005), 165–69; and see also the forthcoming paper by Abed Rabo, “Islamic Cultural-Religious Life in Jerusalem on the Eve of the First Crusade.” Contrary to previous opinion, we believe there was a steady flow of inhabitants evacuating the city in clandestine fashion. This conceivably took place at night from the city walls to the east and south-east, and via the Kidron Valley, which was not under a Crusader blockade at that time (see the testimony of Albert of Aachen on this: Historia 5.46, 6.14, tr. Edgington, pp. 405, 419). People probably departed using one of the gates or underground passages of the Ḥaram aš-Šarīf, or via the south-east gate (near the Dung Gate of today). The Crusader knights would certainly have been informed of the details of al-Afḍal’s capturing of the city in 1098 from the Seljȗk governors Suqman and Ilghazi. Hence, it is likely that at the Ramle/Ramole conference (3 June 1099) remonstrations would have been raised regarding to the plausibility of besieging Jerusalem without an obvious plan of operation and with a paucity of essential logistics. This is what Raymond d’Aguilers (XIII) implies did happen: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 115; cf. August C. Krey, The First Crusade. The Accounts of Eye-Witnesses and Participants (Princeton, NJ, 1921), p. 248. Nothing however is said on this matter in the anonymous Gesta Francorum et aliorum Hierosolymitanorum, ed. Beatrice A. Lees (Oxford, 1924); see also the more recent edition by Nirmal Dass, The Deeds of the Franks and Other Jerusalem-Bound Pilgrims. The Earliest Chronicle of the First Crusades (Lanham, MD, 2011), p. 100. Clearly, the Crusader commanders had no plan in place to establish a secure line of communications with the coast once they were inland, and not much thought had been given as to how they might get sufficient timber for the construction of the necessary siege equipment. For this reason, Raymond’s account rings true, even though some scholars have expressed doubts that the Ramle council had even taken place: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 115, note 19. Clearly, the religious imperative prevailed in the decision making and inevitably it is what pushed the



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west, near the head of the Hinnom Valley, where access to the city wall was fairly good. More importantly, the wall bordering the southern part of Mount Zion, where the ground level of the summit is fairly flat, was also deemed to be vulnerable, and it was there that Count Raymond of Toulouse (St. Gilles) and his Provençal supporters, and his trusted commander Raymond Pilet, eventually decided to set up their camp of tents.9 Raymond eventually made a substantial assault on the city from that direction. Having arrived on 7 June along the main road from the north, with a first sight of Jerusalem obtained from Mons Gaudii,10 the main Crusader force initially settled in front of the northern city wall in a number of camps ranged from east to west.11 The camp opposite St. Stephen’s Gate (present-day Damascus Gate)

9

10

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Crusaders to march on Jerusalem regardless of military considerations. As it transpired, it was only with the failed attack on the walls of Jerusalem on the thirteenth of June that these military matters eventually came to a head and were seriously dealt with by the knights for the first time. In the Gesta Francorum (Dass, Deeds of the Franks, p. 101) the southern camp is described as in the middle of the city and it may very well have appeared that way because of the cluster of buildings and ruined churches situated on Mount Zion: cf. Krey, First Crusade, p. 249. We suggest this camp was more specifically positioned on the east side of the summit, overlooking the Gate of Sion (Bāb Ṣihyȗn). Not enough is known about the archaeological appearance of the camps of the First Crusade. The suggestion made by Prawer that Raymond’s camp would have been wedged between the ruined Church of St. Mary and the southern wall of the city, very close to the south-west angle of the city, seems highly unlikely: Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 10; idem, “Political History,” p. 14. Benjamin Z. Kedar, “Jerusalem’s Two Montes Gaudii,” in Crusader Landscapes in the Medieval Levant. The Archaeology and History of the Latin East, ed. Micaela Sinibaldi, Kevin J. Lewis, Balázs Major and Jennifer A. Thomson (Cardiff, 2016), pp. 3–19; Shimon Gibson and Migav Har-Peled, “On the Location of Mons Gaudii in Northern Jerusalem,” Strata: Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 37 (2019), 99–122. Prawer had suggested that on 7 June the camps – specifically those of Godfrey of Bouillon, Tancred, Robert of Flanders, Hugh of St. Pol, and Raymond of St. Gilles – were deployed in a cluster immediately to the west and south-west of the Tower of David and opposite the adjoining gate: Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 5, fig. 1; idem, “Political History,” pp. 6–7, map 1 on p. 8. This deployment does not make military sense, as France has already pointed out (France, Victory, figs 17a–c). It appears the main camp of Godfrey was situated from the outset at the higher and more prominent position to the north-west (i.e. in the area of the Jerusalem municipality of today and the Notre Dame buildings) where it would have had a commanding vantage toward and “opposite” the Tower of David to the south-east, as well as toward the gate of Bāb al ‘Amud (St. Stephen`s Gate) to the east. The camp of Robert of Flanders was situated east of Godfrey’s camp (see footnote 12, below). It seems unlikely that Raymond’s camp would have been placed at this stage so precariously within arrow-shot of the defenders and in the immediate shadow of the western city wall, as depicted on Prawer’s map. It was more likely placed on the other side of the Hinnom Valley, perhaps just north of Yemin Moshe of today. Tancred’s camp was probably situated at a location half-way between the camps of Godfrey and Raymond. Raymond eventually moved his camp for a fair distance next to the south wall on Mount Zion. It is unlikely however that this action by Raymond would

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was under the command of Robert of Normandy and Robert of Flanders,12 and the camp at the north-west angle (in the area of present-day Notre Dame buildings and Musrara), under the duke of Lorraine (Godfrey of Bouillon) and his brother Eustace. Tancred and Gaston of Béarn’s men were situated closer to the western gate (near the Jaffa Gate of today) and the Tower of David (Turris Dauid),13 but still close to the tents of Godfrey’s men. Count Raymond of Toulouse’s men however were originally positioned in a camp directly west of the Tower of David and opposite the southern part of the western Old City wall, and more precisely on the other side of the upper Hinnom Valley in an area just north of Yemin Moshe of today.14 Count Raymond subsequently moved at a later stage with his faction to Mount Zion, and close to the southern Gate of Sion/ Bāb Ṣihyȗn. Raymond d’Aguilers described the Tower of David as “angular,” which it was, combining a large square defensive tower (Hippicus) with a small walled and turreted compound immediately to its south.15 A lookout post also

12

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15

have resulted in an abandonment of the zone close to the Tower of David or that this went hand-in-hand with a second redeployment of the other northern camps to alternative locations, as Prawer has suggested: “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 7, fig. 2; idem, “Political History,” p. 7, map 2 on p. 10. Doing this would have unraveled the entire military blockade from the west, and it would have further isolated contact with Raymond’s camp, and so it would have been a highly unlikely move for Godfrey to make. Indeed, in our view, the second redeployment of the northern camps eastward was only made days before the final assault on the city. Albert of Aachen described the location of Robert of Flanders’s camp as situated in the “sloping part of the plains,” i.e. in the area of Musrara of today, and with the tents of Robert of Normandy close to the ruins of the Church of St. Stephen, i.e. in the area of the Dominican Couvent de Saint-Étienne of today on Nablus Road: Historia 5.46, tr. Edgington, pp. 403–05. Albert of Aachen, Historia 5.46, tr. Edgington, pp. 403, 405. One assumes that the “gates” at the Tower of David mentioned by Albert of Aachen (i.e. a main gate and another in the barbican in front) were situated at a location much further to the east than the present-day situation of Jaffa Gate. See: Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 50–53. Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 116; Krey, First Crusade, p. 250; Albert of Aachen, Historia 5.46, tr. Edgington, p. 403. A small ruin named after St. George was originally situated just north of Yemin Moshe and south of the French consulate. While these ruins are of much later date, they may have perpetuated a memory of the position of Raymond’s original camp when he arrived on 7 June. Kostick, The Siege of Jerusalem, p. 81, fig. 4, assumes a dry ditch around all four sides of the Tower of David, but there is no archaeological evidence for this. A built talus made up of flat embossed ashlars is visible on the north and north-east sides of this tower, and it might date from this time period, although it is usually dated to the Frankish rebuilding program at the Citadel: Denys Pringle, Secular Buildings in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: An Archaeological Gazetteer (Cambridge, 1997), p. 55. The ditch which surrounds the Citadel of today, on its south and west sides, appears to date to the Mamluk period based on recent excavation data, and it was undoubtedly restored in Ottoman times as well. Fabri (1480–85) describes the Citadel as a place of strength with high walls, many towers and iron-barred gates, “and round about it are ditches which were always naturally deep on that side on which the Mount Sion joins the city…”: ed. Aubrey Stewart, Felix Fabri, Vol. 1, Part 2 (London, 1892), p. 324.



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came to be established on the summit of the Mount of Olives, as a preventative measure to ensure that the Fāṭimids would not sally forth and attack their camps from the east.16 The first attack on the city was made from the north on 13 June by the Crusaders while they were suffused with religious confidence and driven by misguided prophecy provided to them by a hermit preacher on the Mount of Olives, but the assault was a resounding failure and despondency immediately descended upon the besiegers.17 On 17 June, Genoese ships arrived at Jaffa and anchored there. Subsequently the sailors arrived in Jerusalem, among them William Ricau (Embriaco), who joined Count Raymond at the southern camp, bringing with him supplies and equipment. The sailors also had carpentry tools and the expertise needed for the construction of a large siege tower to assist in the attack on the city from the south.18 Wood for the construction of the tower was obtained in small quantities from just south of Jerusalem, but a much better source was identified in woodland close to Nablus at some distance to the north of the city. At the insistence of the priest and visionary, Peter Desiderius, a curious religious procession of knights and foot soldiers, some barefoot, with a few blowing trumpets, made its way on 8 July around the city, led by clergymen with crosses aloft and holding relics of saints. Desiderius declared that Jesus himself might very well appear and “throw open the gates of Jerusalem…” and this increased the sense of heightened expectation.19 The procession set off from the west side of the city opposite the Tower of David, moving to the north side of the city, to the Kidron Valley and Mount of Olives, and then on to the ruins of the Church of St. Mary on Mount Zion, where it was greeted with a barrage of arrows from the Fāṭimid defenders on the southern city wall.20 The purpose of this march was to drum up religious fervor among the fighters and 16

17

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19 20

Albert of Aachen, Historia 5.46, tr. Edgington, p. 405. The Montepellier map of Jerusalem interestingly indicates the position of the camps of Godfrey and Raymond, but owing to the unreliability of this map – as has been shown by Rubin – one should not make too much of this: Rehav Rubin, Image and Reality: Jerusalem in Maps and Views (Jerusalem, 1999), p. 26. This attack apparently took place on the north-west side of the city – based on the testimony of Ralph of Caen – in the area of the present-day New Gate: Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 9, fig. 2; idem, “Political History,” p. 9. While no mention is made of a ditch, the outer wall was breached and a ladder was even set against the main wall. On the use of siege towers at this time: Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives (Edinburgh, 2018 reprint), pp. 526–27; France, Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, 1000–1300 (London, 1999), pp. 117–18; Ronnie Ellenblum, Crusader Castles and Modern Histories (Cambridge, 2007), pp. 240–41. Hill and Hill, Raymond, pp. 122–23. Albert of Aachen described the ruined church of St. Mary as being “just the distance of an arrow flight” from the southern rampart of the city: Historia 6.9, tr. Edgington, p. 415. On the buildings on Mount Zion at that time: David Christian Clausen, The Upper Room and Tomb of David: The History, Art and Archaeology of the Cenacle on Mount Zion (Jefferson, NC, 2016), pp. 66–73.

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(perhaps) to unite the northern and southern camps in common purpose. Had the Fāṭimid garrison seized this opportunity to mount a unified sortie from one of their posterns to attack the vulnerable Christian procession, they might have had some success. But the Fāṭimids obviously thought their defenses to be invincible, and were quite bewildered by the procession.21 Finally, the defenders were taken off guard when the Crusader besiegers in the north dismantled and then shifted their wooden siege tower from their north-western camp to a more easterly position on 12 July, just a few days before the planned attack on the city.22 The final assault on the city began on Thursday 14 July. The layout of the forces in the north at this time was as follows: Robert of Normandy and Robert of Flanders together in the west, with the rest of the forces, including those of Tancred and Gaston Béarn, in the east under Godfrey’s command. The city wall took a pounding, and vulnerable sections had to be padded externally by the 21

22

Hill and Hill are dismissive of the historical authenticity of this event, arguing that the Crusaders would never have been “foolish” to leave their forces exposed to attack in such a way: Raymond, note 13. We may assume there was only one siege tower erected on the north side of the city, notwithstanding the vagueness of Raymond d’Aguilers’s comment (XIV) that “towers” were shifted to this new location, and that “the disjointing, transporting [for] over a mile, and erecting of these machines was no small job”: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 122. The difficulties in obtaining sufficient timber for the preparation of a single tower at this northerly location makes the preparation of a second one highly unlikely. Raymond was probably subsuming in his use of the word “towers” additional wooden siege machinery and a battering ram. Indeed, the Gesta Francorum clearly only refers to two siege towers, one that was situated in the north and the other in the south: Krey, First Crusade, p. 256; Dass, Deeds of the Franks, p. 102. Fulcher of Chartres’s chronicle (c. 1128) mainly speaks of the northern tower noting it was made out of “small pieces of wood” (I.xxvii.5), but it does say that Count Raymond had a similar set of siege machinery on the south side, presumably including a tower as well (I.xxvii.7): ed. Edward Peters, The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and Other Source Materials, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia, PA, 1998), p. 90. The early anonymous Syriac chronicle merely refers to wooden towers but without specifying a number: Arthur Stanley Tritton and Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb, “The First and Second Crusades from an Anonymous Syriac Chronicle,” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland 1 (1933), 69–101, at p. 73. Ibn al-Athīr (c. 1200) also confirms there were two towers: Francesco Gabrieli, Arab Historians of the Crusades (London, 1957), p. 10. However, William of Tyre’s chronicle (c. 1184) is very clear that three siege towers were employed at three separate locations in the 1099 assault on the city, with the third being “in height and solid construction [it] almost matched the others”: WT, VIII.12, pp. 401–02, and that it was pushed over against the wall near “Tancred’s Tower” at the north-west corner of the city: WT, VIII.13, pp. 403–04. The credibility of William of Tyre’s assertion must be questioned, notwithstanding the fact that quite a few scholars since the nineteenth century have been inclined to accept the validity of his account: e.g. Claude R. Conder, The Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. 1099 to 1291 A.D. (London, 1897), p. 66; Gregory J. Wightman, The Walls of Jerusalem from the Canannites to the Mamluks. Mediterranean Archaeology Supplement 4 (Sydney, 1993), p. 247. Importantly, neither Prawer nor France accept the possible existence of a third tower in their analysis of the 1099 siege: Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 9; France, Victory.



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defenders with bags of straw let down by rope to help absorb the impact of the stones thrown against it from siege machines operated by the Crusaders. At this time the battering ram and the siege tower were brought in.23 The goal was to get the siege tower, which was on wheels, as close as possible to the upper range of the wall, while allowing the battering ram to operate against the base of the main curtain wall, swinging back and forth like a pendulum, so as to effect a breach.24 Scaling ladders were also used when the time came. The battering ram with its iron-clad head made some progress in piercing the wall, but it eventually got partially burnt, thus proving to be an obstacle to the advance of the siege tower. Hence, by evening, the attack from the north had to be suspended and the siege tower was pulled out of harm’s way. On the south side of the city the siege tower was pushed up toward the wall on the west side of the southern gate, and the Crusaders cleverly used the incline at this location to their advantage. Iftikhār, who was in charge of the Fāṭimid defensive operations at this spot, used all the artillery at his disposal to prevent the siege tower from approaching the wall, using mangonels to throw at it tied bundles of firewood and straw, coated in pitch, wax, sulfur, and iron nails, which were set afire.25 In the afternoon of 14 July, the attackers seemed to think the siege tower was less in danger from fiery missiles than before. Hence, it was brought up again close to the wall, but the tower went up in flames and part of it was rendered unusable. On the following day, the ditch continued to be filled in order to provide more maneuverability for shifting the partly burnt tower toward the wall. On 15 July, the second siege tower was pushed up against the inner wall on the eastern side of the north wall of the city. The defenders attempted to set the tower on fire, but without the same success their counterparts were having in the south. The exterior padding hanging against the outer face of the city wall which had been put there to protect the wall from the artillery of the Crusaders, was set alight. Eventually, a few of the knights managed to cross a small makeshift drawbridge extending from the middle of the siege tower to the battlements, and they were followed by Duke Godfrey. A full charge ensued with scaling ladders set against the main wall. The siege thus came to an end, with 23

24

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The battering ram was originally assembled at the camp on the north-west, and it was then shifted on 12 July to the east for the final assault from the north: Albert of Aachen, Historia 6.2–3, tr. Edgington, pp. 407, 409. On battering rams used in this period: Hillenbrand, The Crusades, p. 527–28; France, Western Warfare, p. 116. Raymond d’Aguilers (XIV) seems to imply that the filling in of the ditch took place immediately before the attack on the main wall, but this is unlikely. It must have taken place over the two preceding days, 12–13 July: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 125. Raymond indicates that a levelled path was created to help shift the battering ram into position. Indeed, this is clear from the account by Albert of Aachen: on 14 July the battering ram was used to weaken and breach the outer wall (barbican), and the area in front of it was levelled, with the ram then subsequently brought against the “inner and ancient walls”: Historia 6.10, tr. Edgington, p. 415. Raymond XIV: Hill and Hill, Raymond, pp. 125–26.

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the Crusaders pouring into the city; an adjacent gate was unbolted and opened to admit the Crusaders from outside.26 This probably included Tancred’s men as well.27 With the news that the Crusaders were now inside the city, Iftikhār rapidly retreated from the south wall to the Tower of David, resulting in Count Raymond renewing his assault, placing ladders against the southern wall, and then entering the city. He then made his way quickly to the Tower of David, which he subsequently surrounded, knowing full well that Iftikhār was inside. The western gate in the proximity of the Tower of David was also opened and this allowed even more Crusaders to enter the city from that side as well.28 Killing rapidly spread throughout the city and its inhabitants were savagely and cruelly massacred.29 The City Fortifications The strength of the city fortifications on the eve of the Crusader conquest was in its towers and gates. Raymond d’Aguilers described these as “seemingly impregnable.”30 The curtain walls extending between the towers were admittedly quite flimsy in parts, but so long as besieging sappers were prevented from approaching the main walls to undermine them, the Fāṭimid defenders 26

27 28 29

30

Albert of Aachen, Historia 6.21, tr. Edgington, p. 429. See also William of Tyre (WT, VIII.18, 410) who appears to suggest this was the gate of St. Stephen (Damascus Gate). Guibert of Nogent (1107–08) provides another interesting nugget of information in regard to the military tactics of the Fāṭimid defenders: they dug concealed pits beneath the streets behind the breach on the inside of the city wall, with the intention of surprising incoming Crusaders should they come that way into the city: Jay Rubinstein, “Guibert of Nogent, Albert of Aachen and Fulcher of Chartres: Three Crusade Chronicles Intersect,” in Writing the Early Crusades: Text, Transmission and Memory, ed. Marcus Bull and Damien Kempf (Woodbridge, 2014), pp. 24–37 (33). Prawer is certainly right that this allowed Tancred and his men to proceed directly to the Temple Mount: Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 13. Gesta Francorum, 91: Krey, First Crusade, pp. 257, 262; Dass, Deeds of the Franks, p. 104; Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 128. We have already seen (notes 6 and 7, above) that the total number of Jerusalem’s inhabitants was probably smaller (c. 40,000) than what is given in the sources, with people fleeing the city via the Kidron Valley while the city was still under siege. While the chroniclers give the impression that during the siege the Fāṭimid garrison was at all times defiant and confident, it seems highly likely that the rest of the inhabitants (Muslim and Jewish) were thoroughly demoralized and lacking in certainty concerning the outcome of the siege, resulting in many of them wanting to flee the city. The smaller population number we suggest does not in any way diminish the barbaric savagery seen at the conquest of Jerusalem; after all, regardless of what the actual numbers were, the human loss of life was utterly appalling, even by the standards of that time. The few captured survivors of the massacre were given very little consideration: they were set to work on clearing away the dead and they had certain minor rebuilding duties as well, before then being executed themselves. On the “longitudinal” historiographic approach to this sensitive subject, see: Kedar, “Jerusalem Massacre.” Raymond, XIV: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 126.



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could feel fairly assured of their safety, especially since they had an extensive defensive arsenal at their disposal, and artillery and archers positioned on all the key towers. The Crusaders’ use of a wooden iron-tipped battering ram in their attack from the north was a clear danger. Indeed, the repeated hammering of the wall using this ram eventually did cause a breach. The main wall probably had a height of no more than 10 meters, but the defensive towers along its length were probably at least two or three meters higher, as Albert of Aachen has attested.31 The curtain walls had a thickness of approximately three meters, and these were judged to be sufficiently strong to withstand an attack, particularly since there were in front of them ditches and other outworks.32 The curtain walls were particularly vulnerable to attacks using traction trebuchets, and this is apparently how the northern wall of the city was weakened ahead of being breached in a number of places by al-Afḍal in August 1098.33 At the time of the 1099 siege, the defensive arsenal of the Fāṭimid garrison had been significantly increased through the efforts of the local governor, which meant the Crusaders were forced to add to their own artillery. The Crusaders quickly realized that if the city was to be stormed efficiently and quickly, then wooden siege towers were needed to allow them to gain access to the tops of the city walls. These had to be built to 31

32

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Albert of Aachen, Historia 6.12, tr. Edgington, p. 419. The ultimate height of Jerusalem’s city walls at that time is uncertain and it may have varied considerably depending on the underlying topography at the base level of the wall’s foundations. Of course, we do have the height of the current Ottoman Old City walls available to us, but one has to be wary of making comparisons. However, if we take into account the principal that the height of the Fāṭimid city wall would have been at least three times its width (3 meters), with another meter for the battlements, a suggested height of 10 meters for the wall seems reasonable, with a few extra meters added on for the height of the defensive towers to allow fighters room to maneuver their defensive artillery. Hence, the wooden siege towers that were used by the Crusaders to attack the walls must have had a height of at least 15 meters. The large bastion-like defensive towers and gate-towers in the main wall had even deeper foundations with basement rooms as well. The range of fire from the artillery placed on top of the towers would have been immense, and see: Michael S. Fulton, “Development of Prefabricated Artillery During the Crusades,” Journal of Medieval Military History 13 (2015), 51–72; idem, Siege Warfare During the Crusades (Barnsley, 2019). The ditch along the northern city wall of Jerusalem was an artificially cut and sunken rock-cut feature, but along the southern wall it was simply a trench dug through soil and rubble. We have elected in this paper to use the term “ditch” instead of “fosse” or “moat,” mindful of the fact that quite a few scholars have used the word “moat” in their descriptions of the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem. For more definitions: Stephen Francis Wyley, “A Dictionary of Military Architecture: Fortification and Fieldworks from the Iron Age to the Eighteenth Century”: www.angelfire.com/wy/svenskildbiter/madict.html#F. In European contexts a moat was frequently filled with water, but in Near Eastern contexts the moat was mostly dry (with certain exceptions, e.g. Tiberius and Tortosa). On the ditch as a major component of defensive outworks in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in the Levant: Ellenblum, Crusader Castles, pp. 245–47. According to Ibn al-Athīr (x.193–95), al-Afḍal brought forty siege engines to Jerusalem in 1098 and after a six-week siege he was able to break down the (northern) wall at several points: Gabrieli, Arab Historians, p. 10.

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a height of at least 15 meters in order to gain an ascendancy over the 10-meterhigh curtain walls. The Fāṭimid garrison was also helped, it appears, by local Muslims and Jews in the building of revetments along the inner side of the weaker parts of the curtain walls, and especially at places where it was expected the Crusaders might try to breach the fortifications. Wooden boards were also raised at the level of the top of the walls to prevent the Crusaders from gaining access to the battlements from their siege towers. The general course of Jerusalem’s medieval fortifications is known fairly well owing to archaeological excavations that have been conducted at various locations along the circuit of the present-day Old City wall.34 (Fig. 1.2) There are major difficulties however in determining the exact chronological phasing of the gates, towers, and curtain walls, and in disentangling the chronology of individual wall segments of masonry that have been uncovered in excavations and dated variously to the rule of the Fāṭimids, Seljȗks, Crusaders, or Ayyȗbids. Unravelling the complex history of the city fortifications from the tenth to thirteenth centuries is not at all an easy task.35 Ascertaining the exact position of the city gates that are named in textual sources has also been difficult.36 What is certain is that the earlier Umayyad and Abbasid-period fortifications followed more or less the same line as those of the preceding late Byzantine period, and these are depicted in the sixth-century Madaba mosaic map of the city. In many places the main wall continued to be used without much physical change, at least in regard to the lower foundational parts, though undoubtedly there will have been modifications and improvements that were made to the upper parts and the battlements that are no longer visible. The archaeological evidence from the Citadel indicates the large Herodian tower Hippicus (later known as Turris Dauid) was a key defensive feature on the western side of the city in the early Islamic period. This prominent tower (burj) was situated on the northern side of a small walled and turreted enclosure, which had a round tower at its southern end37 (Fig. 1.2: 1). It is conceivable that 34

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For an exceptionally important study on Jerusalem in this period, see: Omar Abed Rabo, “Jerusalem during the Fāṭimid and Seljȗk Periods: Archaeological and Historical Aspects” (unpublished PhD thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2012) (Hebrew with English summary). Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, “The Fortification System in the Northwestern Part of Jerusalem From the Early Islamic to the Ottoman Periods,” ‘Atiqot 65 (2006), 105–30 (Hebrew); idem, “Early Islamic and Medieval City Walls of Jerusalem in Light of New Discoveries,” in Unearthing Jerusalem. 150 Years of Archaeological Research in the Holy City, ed. Katharina Galor and Gideon Avni (Winona Lake, IN, 2011), pp. 417–51. Guy le Strange, Palestine Under the Moslems. A Description of Syria and the Holy Land from A.D. 650 to 1500 (London, 1890), pp. 213–17; Louis-Hugues Vincent and Félix-Marie Abel, Jérusalem. recherches de topographie, d’archéologie et d’histoire. Vol. II: Jérusalem Nouvelle. Fasc. IV (Paris, 1926), pp. 938–41, fig. 384; Yoram Tsafrir, “Muqaddasi’s Gates of Jerusalem: A New Identification Based on Byzantine Sources,” Israel Exploration Journal 27 (1977), 152–61. Dan Bahat, “The Topography and Toponymy of Crusader Jerusalem” (unpublished PhD thesis, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1990), pp. 1–9 (Hebrew with English summary).



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the walls of this early Islamic compound (miḥrāb dāud) were further expanded to the east and south by the 1070s,38 with the addition of a sloping talus with flat marginal-drafted masonry at the northern angle of the large tower.39 The strengthening of the Citadel continued after 1099 following the resolution of the serious ownership issue between Counts Godfrey and Raymond, and work subsequently began on fortifying the tower and expanding the enclosure. Some work of refortification was also done by Count Garnier de Grey on the death of Godfrey, but the exact details of what was accomplished in this work are unknown.40 By the time of the writing of the chronicle of William of Tyre, who had been a resident of the city, around 1184, it could easily be described as “a very massive construction, with its towers, walls, and the outworks attached to it; it rises high above the city below and forms the citadel.”41 This led to the assumption, followed by Johns and others, that the area of the Citadel was enlarged considerably, to the north and west, about a decade earlier,42 i.e. this

38

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40 41 42

The round tower and its adjacent enclosure are dated to the Umayyad period (late seventh– early eighth centuries): Cedric N. Johns, Guide to the Citadel of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, 1944), p. 14; Hillel Geva, “Excavations in the Citadel, Jerusalem, 1979–1980, Preliminary Report,” Israel Exploration Journal 33 (1983), 69–70; see also an alternative but perhaps more realistic reconstruction of the plan of the enclosure as proposed by Greg Wightman, Walls, fig. 74. However, the early foundation date for this round tower, as proposed by Johns and later by Geva, may be much too early. Round towers are not exclusive to Umayyad fortified buildings in the Levant, and are known in Abbasid and Fāṭimid buildings as well. Indeed, the published early Islamic pottery from Geva’s excavations (“Excavations in the Citadel,” Plate 6B, 7A) would probably indicate a late eighth to late tenth centuries date for the tower and enclosure. While scholars have assumed a “neglect” in the building activities at Jerusalem during the Abbasid period, this certainly would not have prevented a garrison from strengthening the Citadel’s defenses, since this would have been an essential activity for those wishing to maintain control over the city. This is the place where the governor of Jerusalem Atsiz ibn ʾAwaq al-K̲h̲ wārizmī brought his family and stored his possessions, before setting off to Egypt in September 1076: Yehoshua Frenkel, “The Seljuks in Palestine (1071–1098),” Cathedra 21 (1981), 49–72 (pp. 63–64) (Hebrew). ’Ali of Herat in 1173 describes the large tower (burj) and the miḥrāb within it as part of the turreted enclosure: Le Strange, Palestine Under the Moslems, p. 211. On a general survey of Islamic sources referring to the miḥrāb dāud at the Citadel (not to be confused with a similarly named place at the Ḥaram aš-Šarīf): Amikam Elad, Medieval Jerusalem and Islamic Worship: Holy Places, Ceremonies, Pilgrimage (Leiden, 1999), pp. 131–32. This talus/glacis was previously dated by Johns to the Frankish occupation, but there is no direct dating evidence to confirm this. Johns, Guide, fig. 2; cf. Wightman, Walls, p. 272, note 49, fig. 84. WT, X.3–4, 455–57: “As soon as the duke died, the count seized the tower and fortified it strongly.” WT, VIII.3, 385. William wrote his chronicle between 1170 and 1184. Johns, Guide; Bahat, “Topography,” pp. 1–5. Unfortunately, the massive Mamluk and Ottoman building operations on the fortifications on the western and southern sides of the Citadel have obscured much of the evidence for earlier Frankish and Ayyȗbid building operations there.

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would have occurred at some point prior to the visit of Theoderic (c. 1172), who described this place as visibly “heavily defended with ditches and barbicans.”43 The southern city wall encompassing traditional Mount Zion in the Byzantine period had been built by Eudocia in the fifth century, and it continued to be used during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods, as far as one can ascertain from available archaeological data.44 However, in subsequent centuries these fortifications became shabby and fell into disrepair. At the time of Fāṭimid rule in Jerusalem, following the conquest of 966, textual evidence indicates the burning of the Church of St. Mary on Mount Zion and the abandonment of its surrounding buildings. Eventually, the southern city wall was also abandoned and a newer wall was built, much further north, and more or less along the same line as the southern Old City wall of today. This very likely took place at the time of the rule of Caliph al-‘Aziz (975–96 CE).45 This inevitably left the 43 44

45

John Wilkinson, ed., Jerusalem Pilgrimage 1099–1185 (London, 1988), p. 277. Wightman suggested the process of abandonment of the southern Byzantine wall began in the late Umayyad period: Walls, pp. 235–36. Indeed, Yehiel Zelinger’s exposure of a section of this wall has brought to light coins of which the latest date from 641–97 and 697–750, respectively (pers. comm.); Y. Zelinger, “The Line of the Southern City Wall of Jerusalem in the Early Periods,” in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed. Archaeological Discoveries, 1998–2018, ed. Hillel Geva (Jerusalem, 2019), pp. 279–88; cf. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, “The Fortifications of Jerusalem in the Byzantine Period,” ARAM 18–19 (2006–07), 85–112. We are also grateful to Dieter Vieweger for showing one of us (Gibson) around his renewed excavations within the Byzantine gate on the south-west slope of Mount Zion, where early Islamic ceramic material has been found. Early Islamic pottery was also found in Emanuel Eisenberg’s 1983 excavations at the Dormition Abbey, and Magen Broshi’s work at St. Saviours on the summit of Mount Zion in the early 1970s. The testimony of Bernard the Monk from 870 is quite interesting since he seems to indicate that the buildings on Mount Zion were still very much inside the city in his day, and enclosed by the line of the original Byzantine/early Islamic city wall: John Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims Before the Crusades (Oxford, 2002), p. 266; but see the comments in Wightman, Walls, p. 236. The destruction of the southern Byzantine to Abbasid fortification line probably took place on the orders of Caliph al-‘Aziz, and it resulted in the shortening of the wall and the exclusion of the Church of St. Mary (Hagia Sion) and other buildings on Mount Zion. This exclusion was probably done intentionally in order to weaken the Christian community that had until then flourished in this part of the city. See also the comments by Gil who inexplicably suggests that it was the changing of city governors at this point which may have initiated the construction of the newer shorter wall: Moshe Gil, A History of Palestine, 634–1099 (Cambridge, 1992), p. 408, note 59. Vincent and Abel believed the initial construction of this new southern wall was in 975 and it took place following the threat of a raid on the city by the emperor John Tzimiskes in 974: Jérusalem Nouvelle, Fasc. II, pp. 939–40; Tsafrir, “Muqaddasi’s Gates,” p. 156, note 21; Francis Edward Peters, Jerusalem (Princeton, NJ, 1985), pp. 242–43. The reality behind this “threat” is questionable: Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 2. Kenyon, who excavated in Jerusalem, was clearly of the opinion that the current southern wall of the Old City was first built by al-‘Aziz: Kathleen M. Kenyon, “Excavations in Jerusalem, 1966,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 99 (1967), 65–71 (71), but the archaeological basis for this assumption is not given in her publications. A recent assessment of evidence from excavations in the area



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compound of the church of St. Mary firmly outside the city wall.46 The gates of the city are described by al-Maqdisī (c. 985), but some argue that the city he is describing relates to an earlier point in time, i.e. to 950–66.47 The question is whether al-Maqdisī undertook to amend his account of Jerusalem and its gates before completing his writing in 985 (375 AH). We think this may very well have been the case – at least in regard to some of the key urban changes that occurred since he left the city. He says, for instance, that Siloam is situated on the outskirts of the city, which it was – but only after the abandonment of the old Byzantine/early Islamic city wall.48 Hence, when al-Maqdisī ’s refers to the Sion Gate (Bāb Ṣihyȗn) in the southern wall, this must be a reference to a gate in the new southern Fāṭimid line from the time of al-‘Aziz (c. 975) and not to a gate in the earlier Byzantine/early Islamic city wall.49 Henceforth, Bāb Ṣihyȗn (east of Zion Gate of today) served as the main gate in the south, providing access to the buildings on Mount Zion.50 A new gate (Belcayre) existed in the 1170s at

46 47 48 49

50

of the Tyropoeon Valley, next to the south-east hill, indicates that the houses there were abandoned (rather than destroyed) in the late tenth century, which fits in well with the proposed al-‘Aziz date for the construction of the new southern wall: Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, “The Southeastern Hill of Jerusalem During the Early Islamic Period: Concluding Remarks,” in Jerusalem. Excavations in the Tyropoeon Valley (Giv’ati Parking Lot), Vol. II: The Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods, IAA Reports 66/2, ed. Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets (Jerusalem, 2020), pp. 704–05. In a recent paper, Pruitt states that there is no textual evidence for architectural patronage by al-‘Aziz in Jerusalem: Jennifer Pruitt, “The Fatimid Holy City: Rebuilding Jerusalem in the Eleventh Century,” in Reassessing the Global Turn in Medieval Art History (The Medieval Globe, vol. 3.2), ed. Christina Normore (Leeds, 2017), pp. 35–52, at p. 42. However, the lack of textual evidence is not conclusive, and archaeological evidence would seem to indicate a different picture. Abed Rabo does not think the new shorter southern wall should be dated to the time of al-‘Aziz: “Jerusalem,” pp. 197–201; cf. Boas, Jerusalem, p. 43. Abed Rabo, “Jerusalem,” p. 16, 197; see also Elad, Medieval Jerusalem, p. 25. See also Abed Rabo’s comments on the Siloam question: “Jerusalem,” pp. 199–200. Tsafrir believed al-Maqdisī was describing the gates of Jerusalem as they existed in 985. He identifies Bāb Ṣihyȗn with a gate in the south wall at the southern end of Armenian Street of today, and the gate east of today’s Zion Gate as Bāb et-Tīh (by correcting it to read Bāb an-Nia, i.e. the Gate of the Nea [Church]): Tsafrir, “Muqaddasi’s Gates,” fig. 1. This is an ingenious suggestion, but unlikely. We think Vincent and Abel correctly identified the tower west of Zion Gate as Bāb et-Tīh (Belcayre), and the gate east of Zion Gate as Bāb Ṣihyȗn (Sion): Vincent and Abel, Jérusalem Nouvelle, pp. 940–41, fig. 384. For further discussion: Wightman, Walls, pp. 238–45. Al-Idrisi (9) in his Geography (1154), wrote: “Now, as to what lies adjacent to the Holy City on the southern quarter, when you go out by the Bāb Ṣihyȗn [Sion Gate], you pass a distance of a stone’s throw, and come to the Church of Sion, which is a beautiful church, and fortified… And from the Gate of Sion you descend into a ravine called Wadi Jahannum [Hinnom Valley]”: le Strange, Palestine Under the Moslems, p. 212; al-Idrisi, Nuzha el-mushtaq fi ikhtraq al-affaq. Vol. 1, Alam al-Kutub, p. 362. Bāb Ṣihyȗn was later referred to by Mujīr al-Dīn in 1496 as Harah al-Yahud. Le Strange (p. 214) mistakenly identified Bāb Ṣihyȗn with the current Zion Gate (Bāb Neby Dāud). The original Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn is situated about 114 meters to the east of Zion Gate of today, and exca-

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the southern end of the street running through the Armenian Quarter of today, probably replacing an earlier postern or small gate, and it served to provide easier and more direct access to the abbey church of St. Mary (Hagia Sion).51 The northern ditch of Jerusalem was probably established at the time of the Fāṭimid refortification efforts, taking place as a result of the earthquakes in the early eleventh century. The fortification system of the city had already been weakened by the 1016 earthquake, and there is evidence that substantial refortification efforts began under Caliph al-Ẓāhir (1021–36), using stones taken from various ruined buildings and churches, notably the church of St. Mary on Mt Zion. The earthquake of December 1033 is known to have brought down a stretch of the city wall and it affected the Citadel (miḥrāb dāud) as well. This earthquake very likely was a catalyst for the resumption of the building operations in 1034, with the deepening of the northern ditch within pre-existing stone-cut quarry-cavities and depressions that had existed there since the Iron Age.52 It appears very likely that in 1034 al-Ẓāhir was the person who was initially responsible for establishing a new set of fortifications on the north, north-west and north-east sides of the city, with an “outer” wall running in front of the old “main” wall and with a ditch extending in front of it. In c. 1047 (439 AH), a Persian visitor to the city, Nāṣir-i Khusraw, was able to express his awe of Jerusalem’s fortifications and described them as “strong walls of stone, mortared, and there are iron gates…” Even more effective rebuilding work on the same fortification line and on its towers (moenia et turres) was conducted by Caliph al-Mustanṣir (between 1059 and 1063), out of fear the city might be taken by the Seljȗks, and details concerning this refortification effort are provided in the writings of William of Tyre.53 Indeed, William seems to imply that the old

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vations have recently been conducted in front of it: Shimon Gibson, James Tabor, Rafael Y. Lewis, and Steve Patterson, “New Excavations on Mount Zion,” in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva (Jerusalem, 2019), pp. 304–13. See also: Shimon Gibson, Rafael Y. Lewis, and James Tabor, “New Finds from the 11th to 13th Centuries along the Southern City Wall of Mount Zion,” in New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region, vol. 10, ed. Guy D. Stiebel, Joe Uziel, Katia Cytryn-Silverman, Amit Re’em, and Yuval Gadot (Jerusalem, 2016), pp. 39*–55*. Denys Pringle, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. A Corpus. Vol. III. The City of Jerusalem (Cambridge, 2007), No. 336, pp. 261–72. See also note 123, below. It is interesting that al-Maqdisī noted in his book, Ahsan al-Taqasim, that the city of Jerusalem “is surrounded by fortifications, part of which is on a mountain, the rest surrounded by a ditch.” However, Abed Rabo rightly points out that it is unclear whether al-Maqdisī was referring to a purposeful defensive “ditch” or simply to the sunken pre-existing rock-cut quarries that existed in front of the old fortification line: Abed Rabo, “Jerusalem,” fig. 62. William of Tyre (IX.17) relates how at the time of Caliph al-Mustanṣir the stretch of fortification wall surrounding the north-west sector of the city (extending from the west gate of David [i.e. within Jaffa Gate], to the north-west corner tower of Tancred, and then on to the north gate of St. Stephen [i.e. Damascus Gate]) was rebuilt and completed in 1063 to its former condition. It was accomplished by the Christian population of Jerusalem with the Fāṭimid governor’s agreement that the built-up area within the wall, on the north-



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main wall of the city on the north had fallen into substantial decay before the time of al-Mustanṣir.54 We may infer from this that Caliph al-Ẓāhir’s work on the northern fortifications a few decades earlier was concentrated primarily on establishing stronger outworks, with only a few repairs made to the main wall. Significantly, al-Ẓāhir may also have been the one responsible in 1034 for the cutting of the ditch alongside the southern city wall.55 The northern wall was clearly well fortified at the time of al-Afḍal’s siege in 1098, when the city was ruled by two Turcoman Seljȗk governors. The city had been in Seljȗk hands ever since it was occupied by Atsiz ibn ʾAwaq al-K̲h̲ wārizmī in 1071 (463 AH).56 Nothing is known about what the Seljȗks

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56

west side of the city, would thereafter become an ethnically exclusive Christian quarter, bordered to its east and south by main streets. The Christian inhabitants however did not have sufficient funds to “restore even one or two of these towers.” Hence, donations for this fortification effort had to be obtained from taxes from Cyprus and this was achieved as a result of the work of envoys of the Jerusalem patriarch who were sent to secure financial support from Emperor Constantine IX (Monomachus) in Constantinople. WT, IX.17, 442–43. See also: Gil, History, pp. 407–08; Steven Gertz, “Fatimids Fighting Over Jerusalem: An Interreligious or Intrareligious Matter?,” The Journal of the Middle East and Africa 11(2) (2020), 115–37 (pp. 127–32). Caliph al-Mustanṣir’s edict with a substantial program of defense-building appears to have been directed not just toward Jerusalem but to other cities in Palestine that were under Fāṭimid control. In regard to Jerusalem this was probably a response to the ravages of the earthquake of December 1033 – notwithstanding Caliph Al-Ẓāhir’s original repairs to Jerusalem’s walls. The work was probably carried out in patchwork fashion, and Yaḥyā Ibn Sa‘īd indicates stones were taken from dismantled churches around Jerusalem, and that there had also been the intention to use materials taken from the ruined church of St. Mary on Mount Zion outside the southern city wall. On the 1033 earthquake and its effect on the fortifications of the city: Gil, History, pp. 399–440, and note 53 where he indicates he does not believe Mt Zion was outside the southern wall at that time. William of Tyre (IX.17) also wrote about the state of the defenses of Jerusalem at a time prior to al-Mustanṣir’s initiative: “walls and towers had fallen into ruins, and the place lay exposed to the machinations of enemies from every direction”: WT, IX.17, p. 442. While William dealt in his writings with the costs relating to the refortification of the north-west sector – encompassing one-fourth of the length of Jerusalem’s enceinte – he tells us nothing about how the rest of the building works along the walls of Jerusalem were eventually paid for. Instead of taking on the initiative of rebuilding the older southern Byzantine-Abbasid wall encompassing Mount Zion, it would appear Caliph al-Ẓāhir set about restoring the southern line of the shorter wall that had previously been built by al-‘Aziz (c. 975), and thus was probably the one who dug the ditch in front of it. On this: Shlomo D. Gotein, “Jerusalem in the Arab Period (638–1099),” in The Jerusalem Cathedra, Vol. 2, ed. Lee I. Levine (Jerusalem, 1982), 168–96 (p. 188). Other scholars suggest this new shorter wall was built later: Pringle, The Churches, p. 262, who implies that it was al-Ẓāhir who was ultimately responsible for the founding of the new southern wall on Mount Zion, whereas Abed Rabo suggests it was the work of al-Mustanṣir: Abed Rabo, “Jerusalem,” p. 212. Gil puts the conquest of Jerusalem in 1073 rather than in 1071, on what appears to be very slim evidence: Gil, History, p. 410. Frenkel on the other hand maintains there were two conquest episodes during this two-year period: the first was a Turcoman raid of 1071 (463 AH), which was brutal but did not result in an occupation of the city; the second

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might have done on the city fortifications during the twenty-seven years of their rule, and their work was perhaps limited to repairs and maintenance of the walls and gates.57 William of Tyre indicated that in the aftermath of the conquest of 1098, al-Afḍal had the walls and towers of the city repaired and that he paid for these improvements out of his own treasury.58 Ibn al-Athīr added that during al-Afḍal’s siege of six weeks the walls were breached in several places.59 The northern ditch was a major defensive obstacle that needed to be overcome at the time of the Crusader siege of Jerusalem in 1099, and it was also a substantial obstacle at the time of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s siege of 1187. Later, however, it would appear the northern ditch was abandoned following the destruction of the Ayyȗbid fortifications in 1219/20 and 1227. Large amounts of rubbish were dumped into the ditch and this infilling began in the aftermath of the raid of the Khwārazmians in 1244 and continued throughout the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. The Northern Ditch The Crusader knights participating in the 1099 siege were evidently highly experienced in the art of siege warfare, but time was against them and a prolonged siege of Jerusalem was simply not possible. There were two things working against the Crusaders: first, many of the foot soldiers and non-combatants were suffering from acute thirst and hunger, and, second, a fear prevailed among them that the Fāṭimid army was already on its way from Cairo and might suddenly turn up to relieve the city. Hence, to make faster progress the Crusaders needed to weaken at least one section of the main wall on the north side of the city. Indeed, the city was assaulted on 13 June and the Crusader forces managed to

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was a peaceful handover of the city to an invading Turcoman force in 1073 (465 AH), who then subsequently held on to the city until the Fāṭimid invasion in 1098: Frenkel, “The Seljuks,” p. 59, note 62. The 1073 conquest date is also given by Mustufa A. Hiyari, “Crusader Jerusalem, 1099–1187 AD,” in Jerusalem in History, ed. K. J. Asali (Buckhurst Hill, 1989), p. 135. On Seljȗk Jerusalem: Shimon Gat, “The Seljuks in Jerusalem: An Historical Impression Tested,” Cathedra 101 (2002), 91–124 (at pp. 94–96) (Hebrew). On archaeological grounds no evidence has been found that might support the notion that Christian and Jewish properties in the city were destroyed at the time of Seljȗk rule, and so the idea that the Crusaders must have conquered a city that had already become considerably dilapidated and broken down, has to be incorrect. Indeed, this is confirmed in Gat’s analysis of the available textual evidence: Gat, “The Seljuks,” pp. 123–24. See also Maher Y. Abu-Munshar, Islamic Jerusalem and its Christians: A History of Tolerance and Tensions (London and New York, 2007), pp. 125–27; also Abed Rabo, “Islamic Cultural-Religious Life.” Various scholars believe the Seljȗks were responsible for the construction of the northern outer wall and ditch, but no evidence to support this claim has been adduced: Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” pp. 2–3; Denys Pringle, “Crusader Jerusalem,” Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 10 (1990–91), p. 106. William of Tyre indicates that people from settlements outside of Jerusalem were brought in to help with the refortification effort. WT, VII.23, p. 374. Ibn al-Athīr, x.193–94.



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break through a section of the outer wall, an obstacle which they found they could easily remove using iron hammers and mattocks, and this did provide temporary access to the main wall.60 However, this assault ended up as a failure, with the Crusaders suffering a major loss of life. Clearly, filling in the northern ditch at multiple locations was not a viable military option,61 and thus specific spots had to be chosen where it might be feasible to cross the ditch and mount an attack using a battering ram and siege tower. By the end of June, the siege equipment and a tower for the northern forces were being prepared, and it fell upon Robert of Flanders and Robert of Normandy to obtain the necessary timber for this job. A small amount of wood was acquired from a source close by, but it turned out the quantity of wood was insufficient and the quality unsuitable. Eventually Robert of Flanders led a task force and managed to obtain timber from woodland close to Nablus. According to Ralph of Caen, another source of timber was accidentally discovered by Tancred’s men in a cave in the near vicinity of the city; it may have been hidden there at the time of al-Afḍal’s siege of Jerusalem the previous year. Godfrey and the two Roberts appointed Gaston of Béarn to be in charge of a group of laborers entrusted with building the siege tower, and by all accounts it was not as steady and formidable as the southern siege tower.62 The siege tower was put together in the north-west camp, and this was most likely at a location in the area of the buildings of present-day Notre Dame and Musrara, and construction of the tower was completed by 7 July.63 A few days before the assault on the city commenced, the siege tower was dismantled and shifted to its new location, where, according to Raymond d’Aguilers, there was a “flat surface [that] offered a better approach to the walls,” and there it was reassembled.64 He stated that this place was situated between the Church of St. Stephen (i.e. the area of the present-day École Biblique) and the Jehosaphat (Kidron) Valley.65 This reference must be to the rocky hillock opposite the Old City, which is situated just west of the present-day Rockefeller Museum, where there is a suitable incline toward the south-east.66 (Fig. 1.2: 26) 60

61 62 63

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The writer of the Gesta Francorum describes this action as follows: “we destroyed the outer wall and put up a ladder against the main wall”: Krey, First Crusade, p. 249; Dass, Deeds of the Franks, p. 101. Cf. Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 117. William of Tyre (writing c. 1184), who knew Jerusalem intimately, describes it as a “wide and deep ditch before the bulwarks.” WT, VIII.13, p. 403. Raymond, XIV, indicates it was paid for by public collection made from the soldiers: Hill and Hill, Raymond, pp. 123–24. Prawer suggested the siege tower was initially built at a location near the ruins of the church of St. Stephen, but this seems to be inconsistent with the information provided by Raymond d’Aguilers: “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 9; idem, “Political History,” pp. 14–15. Raymond XIV: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 125. The exterior walls (barbicans) at this location are clearly referred to by Albert of Aachen, Historia 6.1, tr. Edgington, p. 407. This is reiterated by Albert of Aachen, Historia 6.9, tr. Edgington, p. 415. The twelfth-century Cambrai map flags the spot in the fortification line where the

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The attackers would have had to begin filling in the ditch at this new location, otherwise it would have been impossible to push the siege tower toward the wall. Raymond d’Aguilers says this part of the city had been left “unfortified” and by that he probably meant the wall was vulnerable and had not previously been reinforced by the Fāṭimid garrison.67 This shifting of the siege tower to this new location apparently took place on 12 July.68 This meant the Fāṭimid defenders of the city had very little time (only two days) to get their five artillery machines in place to oppose the Crusader’s new position. The reinforcements they made to the city wall at the previous location had to be abandoned. Albert of Aachen provides a description of the northern siege tower: “[it] was erected with all its fittings: its walls, upper storeys and panels, were covered with the skins of cattle, horses, and camels, and in it were positioned the soldiers who would attack the city and more easily harass and fight those who withstood them.”69 Albert went on to say that during the attack on the northern wall: “[the siege tower] was hit by the frequent blows and shaken and threatened to collapse, [but] it remained

67 68

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Crusaders ultimately broke into the city from the north (hic capta est civitas a francis), and it would appear on visual grounds to be close to the corner tower known as Burj al-Laqlaq (“stork tower”): Milka Levy, “Medieval Maps of Jerusalem,” in The History of Jerusalem. Crusader and Ayyȗbids (1099–1250), ed. Joshua Prawer and Haggai Ben-Shammai (Jerusalem, 1991), pp. 418–507 (425) (Hebrew). However, the Cambrai map should not be taken as a realistic depiction of the exact position of towers from that period and their precise number. Hence, we suggest Godfrey and his men breached the wall and gained access to the city at a location that was further to the west, i.e. in our estimation this was at a spot between the fourth and fifth towers of the current Ottoman city wall, approximately 200 m to the west of the north-east angle of today, where the Wadi Zahira/Bethesda gully runs diagonally to the south-east. This would have been a more convenient place for the Crusaders to bring out their battering ram and to push their siege tower against the curtain wall of the city (see our Fig. 1.2: 26). Prawer similarly placed the attack at this location: “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 11, fig. 3; idem, “Political History,” 21; cf. France, Victory, pp. 365, 371–72, note 35, fig. 17c. Interestingly, an early thirteenth-century account indicates that a stone cross was eventually placed by the city inhabitants on the wall to commemorate the exact site of the breach: Simon John, “The ‘Feast of the Liberation of Jerusalem’: Remembering and Reconstructing the First Crusade in the Holy City, 1099–1187,” Journal of Medieval History 41 (2015), 409–31, at p. 428. Raymond XIV: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 125. The need for time for the Crusaders to fill in the ditch at the new location, is a strong argument in support of Heinrich Hagenmeyer’s suggestion that the northern siege tower had to have been moved to its new eastern location by 12 July: “Chronologie de la première croisade, 1094–1100,” Revue de l’Orient Latin 6–8 (1898–1901), 401; cf. the arguments made by Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 125, note 18. Prawer suggested the shifting of the tower had already taken place on the night of 9 July: “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 9; idem, “Political History,” pp. 14–15. Indeed, the effort to fill up the ditch in front of the battering ram and siege tower probably continued even while the assault was underway, and this fits in with William of Tyre’s description of the increased work that was needed “to fill up the moat with rubbish, stones, and earth, before a road could be made along which to move the [siege] machines.” WT, VIII.13, p. 404, see also WT, VIII.14, p. 405, WT, VIII.15, pp. 405–06, WT, VIII.16, pp. 407–08, WT, VIII.18, p. 409. Albert of Aachen, Historia 6.11, tr. Edgington, p. 417.



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whole and unconquered, and because it was protected by the wicker panels it sustained and was cushioned against the amazing attack of stones.”70 Substantial parts of the rock-cut ditch that was encountered by the Crusader forces on the north side of the city were still accessible to nineteenth-century explorers and researchers, including Tobler, Schick, Vincent and Abel, and many others.71 Indeed, parts of the rock-cut ditch are still visible today near the north-east angle of the city. We estimate the ditch to have had a length of at least 1.57 km. The following description will deal with its specific features, beginning in the north-west and ending on the north-east side of the city. In July 1099 there were three separate lines of defense on the north side of the city: (1) the ditch; (2) the outer wall (minorum murum), and (3) the main wall (maiorum murum).72 The principal line of defense was of course the main wall, which consisted of curtain walls, towers, gates and posterns, and it had constantly been rebuilt and renewed since the Byzantine period. The outer wall (antemurale) was an outlying barbican-like feature running more or less parallel to the main wall, sometimes having salients and turrets, steps and posterns, and it was built as an obstacle to prevent direct access to the main wall situated behind it.73 The total intended height of this feature above the rock scarp is uncertain, but we surmise it would have had a height of at least 5 meters, i.e. to about half the height of the main wall. Finally, the ditch ran in front of these and served as the outer line of defense; it was partly rock-cut, especially on the west and east sides of the northern sector, and at certain locations it was reinforced with sloping revetments and counter-scarps. The main stretch of the northern wall had a long history and some of the surviving segments of masonry at the level of its foundations are evidently of 70 71

72

73

Albert of Aachen, Historia 6.15, tr. Edgington, p. 423. Writing in the 1850s, Titus Tobler complained about the lack of interest his fellow scholars had in recording the length and breadth of the northern ditch of Jerusalem: Topographie von Jerusalem und seinen Umgebungen I. Die heilige Stadt (Berlin, 1853), p. 72. According to him the ditch was up to 24 paces wide, and had visible depths of 1.8 and 2.4 m. He assumed (incorrectly) that the rock-cut moat on the north continued along the west side of the city as well, as far as the south-west angle. We will not deal here with the ditch in the Ottoman period. For an excellent general summary of the subject: Kay Prag, “Defensive Ditches in Ottoman Fortifications in Bilād al-Shām,” in Muslim Military Architecture in Greater Syria, ed. Hugh Kennedy (Leiden, 2006), pp. 295–306. On the archaeological data regarding Ottoman ditches in Jerusalem, see Kay Prag, Excavations by K. M. Kenyon in Jerusalem 1961-1967. Vol. V. Discoveries in Hellenistic to Ottoman Jerusalem (Oxford, 2008), pp. 282–85, and table 7.1. One source, a sijill text (31, No. 1759) from 1555, refers to workers and tools that were needed to dig a new defensive ditch in Jerusalem: Mohammad Ghosheh, “The Walls and Gates of Jerusalem Before and After Sultan Süleymān’s Rebuilding Project of 1538–40,” in Governing the Holy City. The Interaction of Social Groups in Jerusalem between the Fatimid and the Ottoman Period, ed. Johannes Pahlitzsch and Lorenz Korn (Wiesbaden, 2004), p. 129. Prawer did not think the outer wall was a continuous freestanding fortification but that it was built in sections: “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 3. He is followed in this by France, Victory, p. 367, who refers to these as “elongated enclosures.”

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early Byzantine date. Running in front (and north) of this fortification line are extensive areas of sunken stone quarrying which certainly predate the medieval ditch.74 The main wall was constantly under repair during Fāṭimid and Seljȗk rule, largely owing to the damage inflicted on it by a number of earthquakes (1016, 1033). Unlike the curtain walls, the gates and towers in the same wall saw substantial refurbishment and adaptation. While, on historical grounds, Caliph al-Ẓāhir in 1034 appears to have focused his efforts on constructing new outworks and on deepening the pre-existing northern ditch, it was Caliph al-Mustanṣir who in 1059 to 1063 was ultimately responsible for the major refurbishment of the towers and gates of the city. Indeed, al-Mustanṣir was probably also responsible for shifting the axis of the principal western wall on the northwest side of the city, to a new alignment further west. This new wall corresponds with the line of the western Ottoman wall, which currently runs between Jaffa Gate and the north-west angle of the city.75 Excavations beneath the Ottoman 74

75

Substantial quarries for the purpose of extracting building stone, from as early as the Iron Age, were spread out in front of the fortification line on the north and north-west sides of the city, as Barkay has shown: Gabriel Barkay, “Three First Temple Burial Caves North of Damascus Gate and the Date of Jerusalem’s Northern Moat,” Cathedra 83 (1997), 7–26 (Hebrew). These deep quarried areas ultimately hindered sappers at the time of a siege from reaching the foundations of the northern wall in the Byzantine to Abbasid periods, but there is no evidence that this was done intentionally as a pre-emptive fortification activity from as early as the Iron Age, as Barkay has suggested. On quarries that did serve as purposeful defensive outworks in the fortifications of the “First” and “Second Wall” of late Hellenistic and Early Roman date, see the summary with bibliography in: Shimon Gibson, “Golgotha in the Gospel of John, the Tomb of Jesus, and the Underlying Topography of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,” in Archaeology, John, and Jesus: What Recent Discoveries Show Us About the Jesus of History from the Fourth Gospel, ed. Paul N. Anderson, chapter 23 (Grand Rapids, MI, 2023). Wightman’s conclusion that the northern forewall and ditch has to date back to as early as the Umayyad period is unwarranted, at least on the basis of the adduced evidence: Wightman, Walls, pp. 249, 257. Therefore, we believe a fully executed ditch was most likely first established in the northern sector in the tenth century at the earliest. The original western line of city wall of Early Roman to Fāṭimid date (width 2.43 m) ran from the north side of the Tower of David for 37 meters, where it was traced below the foundations of the Grand New Hotel (our Fig. 1.2: 2), and then it turned to the north-west (Fig. 1.2: 3), reaching as far as the area of Tancred’s Tower, where it then shifted direction toward the east (Fig. 1.2: 11): Louis-Hugues Vincent and Marie-Joseph Steve, Jérusalem de l’ancien testament, Vol. 1 (Paris, 1954), pp. 96–100, fig. 35; Wightman, Walls, pp. 174–75. Schick reported on seeing the north-west extension of this wall running beneath the Latin Patriarchate: Conrad Schick, “Remains of the Old City Wall,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 22/1 (1890), 21. Another section of this same wall was excavated by Jon Seligman, “Jerusalem’s Ancient Walls Strike Again: The Knight’s Palace Hotel,” ‘Atiqot 43 (2002), 73–85. This wall evidently had a very long history. It was originally built in the Early Roman period (40–44 CE) and served as the western flank of the “Third Wall.” It was then repaired and continued to be used as a fortification wall in the Byzantine to early Islamic periods. A very small section of the south-eastern end of this wall was excavated in May 2010: Ofer Sion and Yehudah Rapuano, “New Discoveries from Excavations Inside Jaffa Gate of Old City Jerusalem,” Liber Annuus 64 (2014), 453–90, fig. 1.

Figure 1.3  North-west angle of city (Tancred’s Tower) with rock-cut ditch and water channel in foreground (see Fig. 1.2: 10, 13). (Photograph: Shimon Gibson.)

Figure 1.4  Painting in the Collège des Frères of the original Tancred’s Tower (Fig. 1.2: 9) seen towards the north-east, by an unknown artist. (Photograph: Shimon Gibson.)

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city wall have revealed earlier medieval wall fragments, as well as a tower of Ayyȗbid date.76 (Fig. 1.2: 4, 8) In front of the main western Old City wall of today and running parallel with it, at a distance of 6 meters, the line of an outer wall was traced (3.20 meters thick); at one point it had a tower above a rock scarp (protruding from the wall for 6 meters) (Fig. 1.2: 5–6). This wall ran toward the north-west angle of the city with a length of approximately 110 meters.77 The flattened rock-cut area in front of the wall has a breadth of 11 meters, but it cannot be described as a ditch and no evidence of a counterscarp was found. A flight of twelve rock-cut

76

77

Schick’s original plans and sections pertaining to this wall, from June 1887, are located in the PEF archives (PEF/Schick/282/2-4) and these were reproduced in: Shimon Gibson, Yoni Shapira, and Rupert L. Chapman, Tourists, Travellers and Hotels in Nineteenth-Century Jerusalem. PEF Annual XI (Leeds, 2013), pp. 69–71, figs 2.50–2.52, and for further bibliography, see note 239 on p. 116; cf. PEF Archives/ LEW/1/133. It is likely that this same heavily repaired wall continued in use until the mid-eleventh century (i.e. at least until 1034), at which point (probably in the year 1063) the line of the city wall shifted to the current line of the western Ottoman wall (Fig. 1.2: 4). Bahat has suggested this shift of the position of the west wall occurred as a direct result of the north and west expansion of the Crusader Citadel in the twelfth century: Bahat, “Topography,” p. 2. We think this unlikely: while substantial building works were undoubtedly taking place at the Citadel, there is no evidence that the Crusaders expended much effort on the general main wall of the city itself beyond making basic repairs. Originally it was thought the current western Ottoman city wall was built only on a foundation of rubble and fill: Bahat, “Topography,” p. 26. However, new excavations revealed the remains of a number of underlying wall segments, as well as the remains of a tower close to the north-west corner, and these have been dated to the second half of the twelfth century and to the beginning of the thirteenth century (our Fig. 1.2: 8): Shlomit Weksler-Bdloah and Miriam Avissar, “An Excavation in the Courtyard of the Knights’ Palace Hotel in the Christian Quarter, the Old City of Jerusalem,” ‘Atiqot 80 (2015), 67*–108*, and plan 3 on p. 104* (Hebrew). A number of scholars suggest the wall seen underlying the Ottoman wall (Fig. 1.2: 4) must represent the Fāṭimid or Ayyȗbid inner main wall: Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 46–47; Abed Rabo, “Jerusalem,” pp. 242–43). We believe this is likely but only from 1063, at which point it replaced the original inner western city wall of Early Roman to Byzantine/early Islamic date (Fig. 1.2: 3), which was situated some 50 meters further east, running diagonally from the Tower of David to the north-west angle (see note 75, above). This outer wall was seen by a number of nineteenth-century explorers: Ermette Pierotti, Jerusalem Explored: Being a Description of the Ancient and Modern City, Vol. I (London, 1864), pp. 34–35, and Conrad Schick, who saw a segment of the wall near Jaffa Gate (see map from June 1887: PEF Archives/Schick/228/1) and another part of the wall at a distance of 100 meters from the gate: “Notes from Jerusalem,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 19/4 (1887), 213–221, see plan on p. 214. The significance of this wall was originally discussed by Vincent and Steve, Jérusalem de l’ancien testament, Vol. 1, 41, fig. 6: A-B-C, and compare this to their plan II and plates XXIVb and XXXI. For modern excavations of this wall: Haim Goldfuss excavated a small segment of the wall next to Jaffa Gate and it was preserved to a height of 5 meters, Excavations and Surveys in Israel 3 (1984), pp. 53–55. A considerable length of the wall was dug by Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron, “Excavations in the Mamillah Area, Jerusalem: The Medieval Fortifications,” ‘Atiqot 54 (2006), 125–52.



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steps was unearthed ascending to the tower, and it was situated half-way along the outer wall, at a distance of about 60 meters to the north-west of Jaffa Gate; it may originally have led to a postern.78 (Fig. 1.2: 6) The latest possible date for this outer wall is certain: at its foot was a pile of collapsed stone debris from the 1219 destruction. In a trench (Probe I) that was cut by the excavators next to the aqueduct, a coin was found dated to 1218–38 (AH 615–35). This coin clearly came from the refurbishment activities connected to the repairs made to the aqueduct, and not from the foundation trench of the wall, as the excavators proposed, since it did not have one.79 Indeed, rubbish was intentionally kept away from the area that was in front of the wall, and as a result of these clearance activities earlier Byzantine structures to the south-east were levelled and filled in. Reused ashlars and architectural fragments that are seen in this wall – some of which definitely derive from Crusader buildings – perhaps suggest an 1191/92 date of construction, and therefore Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn may have built it to replace the earlier Fāṭimid outworks established here in 1063. At the north-west angle of the city there was a massive fortified bastion known as Tancred’s Tower, or Goliath’s Tower (Fig. 1.2: 9), which had an outer wall in front of it on its north and west sides, and a rock-cut ditch with a general width of 19 meters and a depth of 7 to 9 meters (Fig. 1.3). This tower has been studied by numerous scholars since the mid-nineteenth century, notably by Wilson, Schick, Vincent and Steve, among many others.80 (Fig. 1.4) Today, substantial remains of 78

79

80

For a map and pictures of this outer tower and steps: Reich and Shukron, “Excavations in the Mamillah Area,” plan 1 on p. 127, figs 4–9; Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 48–49, plate 7.2. The tower uncovered by Reich and Shukron may have mirrored a tower seen by Schick in the main wall immediately behind it. Schick’s tower was seen below the third Ottoman tower to the north-west of Jaffa Gate (our Fig. 1.2: 4): “Remains of the Old City Wall,” p. 21. We should point out that the tower’s rock-cut steps resemble two other flights of steps seen elsewhere along the fortifications, which were also apparently linked to posterns. The first is at a location referred to by Schick along the north wall and situated west of the Damascus Gate (see below, note 88) (Fig. 1.2: 18). The second flight of steps belongs to a tower at the south-west angle of the city fortifications on Mount Zion, in the area of Bishop Gobat’s School (Jerusalem University College of today), and it was likely constructed by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn in 1191–92 (see below, note 155) (Fig. 1.2: 60). On the general appearance of posterns that were used for sorties from the city at that time: Ellenblum, Crusader Castles, pp. 250–53. Reich and Shukron, “Excavations in the Mamillah Area,” pp. 132, 143, and fig. 16. Note that the steps on the side of the tower begin at a flat rock-cut surface at elevation 767.60. This rock surface slopes down to the south-east toward the built aqueduct, and the excavator’s Probe I was dug next to the kerb of the aqueduct. This probe (L. 195) contained only Byzantine pottery, with the exception of one coin which probably came from the adjacent levelled area in front of the wall, which was in use from 1191/92 and until 1219. Tobler, Topographie I, pp. 66–68; Charles Wilson, Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem (Southampton, 1866), pl. XXVII, pp. 55, 73–74, photo 31b (note that Wilson’s map is based on mapping made by Schick in 1865: PEF Archives/Schick/221); Conrad Schick, “Mittheilungen aus Jerusalem,” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins 1 (1878), 11–23, plate IV, which shows not just the tower but the adjacent remains and the ditch as well (our Fig. 1.6); Herbert H. Kitchener, “Recent Discoveries at the Kal’at Jalud, Jerusalem,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 10/2 (April 1878), 78; Charles Warren and Claude

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Figure 1.5  Piers of Tancred’s Tower towards the north-east. (Photograph: Shimon Gibson.)

the lower part of this tower are still visible in the basement of the Collège des Frères, which is located just inside New Gate.81 (Fig. 1.5) A built postern was detected close to the north-west corner of the tower.82 (Fig. 1.2: 12) The northern

81

82

R. Conder, The Survey of Western Palestine. Jerusalem (London, 1884), pp. 264–67; Vincent and Steve, Jérusalem de l’ancien testament, Vol. 1, pp. 119–29, plates XXVI– XXVII; Johann Nepomuk Sepp, Jerusalem und das heilige Land (Regensburg, 1873), p. 238: map and section. See also a letter of 2 August 1877 from Thomas Chaplin to Walter Besant at the PEF, describing the foundations of the tower and an adjacent “megalithic” wall that could also be seen: PEF Archives/WS/411. See also: Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 69–70. We are grateful to the school authorities for allowing us access to the building in 2007 to examine and record the ancient walls in the basement of their property. This was done with Omar Abed Rabo and Mareike Grosser. A discussion on the layout of the tower and its adjacent fortifications, dating from a number of stages of construction, will have to be given elsewhere. For a map showing the postern excavated by Vincent in 1912: Vincent and Steve, Jérusalem



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face of this tower and its outer wall were exposed in excavations conducted by Bahat and Ben-Ari, as well as a section of a cut channel seen extending across a rock “bridge,” which brought water from the north into the city, and perhaps extended as far as the Pool of Hezekiah.83 (Fig. 1.2: 10) Modern excavations undertaken in the area of the rock-cut ditch, extending from Tancred’s Tower as far as the present-day New Gate, as well as for a further 200 meters to the east, revealed segments of walls, and rock-cut and built salients and scarps belonging to the ditch.84 (Fig. 1.2: 15) The rock-cut ditch at the north-west angle appeared in a number of nineteenth-century maps and sketches, indicating that its upper parts were evidently visible at that time (Figs 1.6 and 1.7). The entire core of Tancred’s Tower appears to be of Fāṭimid/Seljȗk date, with probable refurbishments having been undertaken at the time of the Crusaders and under Ayyȗbid rule. The outer wall was clearly rebuilt by the Ayyȗbids, and the two sculpted capitals taken from Crusader buildings that are seen in secondary use in the outer wall are probably from the time of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s works in 1191–92.85 Further sections of the ditch were exposed in the area extending between the New Gate and Damascus Gate, notably by Tarler, de Groot and Solar in 1979, with the discovery in one trench of part of a forewall (4.5 meters thick) and ditch 14 meters wide, and in a second trench a stone-built revetment having a 45 degrees angle, on a line approximately 8 meters to the north of the Ottoman wall of today.86 (Fig. 1.2: 17) Earlier, Schick made a number of investigations along the north wall, from the north-west angle and toward Damascus Gate.87 (Figs 1.8

83

84 85

86

87

de l’ancien testament, Vol. 1, p. 121, fig. 39. Burchard of Sion (1185) perhaps referred to this postern as a gate: Denys Pringle, Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land (London, 2012), p. 297, note 371. It may also be the same as the gate (Bāb Hārat al-Jawālida) that was seen in this area before the construction of the Ottoman city wall: Ghosheh, “Walls and Gates,” pp. 123–24, note 38. Dan Bahat and M. Ben-Ari, “Excavations at Tancred’s Tower,” in Jerusalem Revealed: Archaeology in the Holy City, 1968–1974, ed. Yigael Yadin (Jerusalem, 1976), pp. 109–10; Bahat, “Topography,” pp. 26–27. Clearly, the rock-cut ditch did not undercut the channel, and so it has to be contemporary with it (i.e. to the time of Caliph al-Ẓāhir in 1034), but the channel may have had an earlier use, perhaps as a supplementary source of water for the Pool of Hezekiah. Indeed, part of this rock-cut channel was seen in 1652 below the San Salvador monastery: Sepp, Jerusalem und das heilige Land, p. 239. For a map showing the entire course of the conduit: Conrad Schick, “Herr Schick’s Reports. 4. Watercourse Providing the Ancient City with Water from North-West,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 23/4 (October 1891), pp. 278–80 (map on p. 279). For a summary of these new excavations: Weksler-Bdolah, “Fortification System”; idem, “Early Islamic and Medieval City Walls.” Bahat, “Topography,” 26–27. The tower which is referred to by Burchard of Sion as the “Cloudy Tower,” was evidently in ruins at the time of his visit (1185) but judging by his description it was still an impressive sight: Pringle, Pilgrimage, p. 289. David Tarler, Alon de Groot, and Giora Solar, “Jerusalem: Excavations between Damascus Gate and New Gate,” Hadashot Arkheologiyot 69–71 (1979), 57–58. For recent excavations in this area: Weksler-Bdolah, “Early Islamic and Medieval City Walls,” pp. 430–36. See Conrad Schick’s map of these remains: PEF Archives/Schick/222/3 (our Fig. 1.9); also Schick, “Mittheilungen aus Jerusalem,” plate III (our Fig. 1.8). An interesting sketch by

Figure 1.6  Schick’s plan of Tancred’s Tower and rock-cut ditch (Fig. 1.2: 9, 13). Drawing: Conrad Schick, “Mittheilungen aus Jerusalem,” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins 1 (1878), Plate IV. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

Figure 1.7  The rock-cut ditch extending from the north-west angle to the New Gate (Fig. 1.2: 14) in a pencil sketch by William Henry Bartlett from 1842. (Courtesy of Archival and Special Collections, McLaughlin Library, University of Guelph.)



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and 1.9) At one location, about 103 meters to the east of the New Gate, Schick records the discovery of a section of the outer wall, with steps leading up to it from the ditch to a postern.88 (Fig. 1.2: 18) This may have been the Postern of St. Ladre/Lazarus, though others have suggested this postern should be identified at a location much further west and closer to Tancred’s Tower at the north-west angle of the city.89 The width of the ditch near the New Gate was 14 meters, but it may have been broadened considerably in its extension toward the east

88

89

William Henry Bartlett from 1842 depicts the rock-cut ditch in the area from the north-west angle and as far as the New Gate (our Fig. 1.7). This sketch (No. XZ5 MS A067) is in the Archival and Special Collections of the McLaughlin Library at the University of Guelph, and we are grateful to the authorities there for allowing us to reproduce this drawing. A new excavation was conducted in 2009 at this angle, beneath the northern foundations of the Convent of the Sisters of Marie Réparatrice, by Gerald Finkielsztejn and colleagues, revealed the north-west corner of the rock-cut ditch (14 meters wide; 3 meters deep): Gerald Finkielsztejn, Annette Nagar, and Ya’aqov Billig, “The Northwestern Corner of Jerusalem’s Old City Wall: Medieval Archaeology and Modern History,” in New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region, 3, ed. David Amit, Guy D. Stiebel, and Orit Peleg-Barkat (Jerusalem, 2009), pp. 5*–8* and map 1 on p. 6*. This area of the ditch it transpires had already been cleared out in 1891: Conrad Schick, “Letters from Baurath C. Schick,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 24/1 (1892), 9–25 (p. 17); and for the original map of the ditch at this angle: PEF Archives/Schick/37/2. According to Schick, excavations revealed a turreted outer wall and at its northern angle a flight of steps leading to a postern (0.91 m wide and 1.83 high). In front of the wall was the rock-cut ditch (4.87 m deep) and many collapsed ashlars were found within the debris (perhaps of 1219 date): “Reports from Baurath Conrad Schick: 2. A Stair and Postern in the Old Wall,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 27/1 (1895), 29–40 (p. 30). Merrill also noted a wall seen east of Damascus Gate, running parallel with the Ottoman city wall and 12 meters to its north: Selah Merrill, “Notes from Jerusalem. 2. An Excavation North of the City Wall,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 35/2 (1903), 153–59 (pp. 155–57). Barton recorded a series of piers at this same location: George A. Barton, “Researches of the American School in Palestine,” Journal of Biblical Literature 22 (1903), 164–86 (at p. 176, fig. 8). Bahat, “Topography,” 28. For information on the leprosarium and/or pool associated with St. Ladre/Lazarus: Titus Tobler, Die Siloahquelle und der Oelberg (St. Gallen, 1852), with map entitled “Plan von Jerusalem wie es zur Zeit der Kreuzfahrer war”; Charles Clermont-Ganneau, “Seal of the Crusading Period, from the Leper Hospital of St. Lazarus at Jerusalem,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 33/2 (1901), 109–23 (pp. 109–14); Vincent and Abel, Jérusalem Nouvelle. Fasc. IV, p. 968. In the Chronique d’Ernoul we hear that the postern was situated from outside the city to the right (i.e. to the west) of the gate of St. Stephen (Damascus Gate) and that it gave Christians access directly to “Patriarch’s Street” (i.e. Christian Street of today): Pringle, Pilgrimage, p. 157; Malcom Barber, “The Order of Saint Lazarus and the Crusades,” The Catholic Historical Review 80 (1994), p. 441, note 10. A postern seen near New Gate may be the same as Mujīr ed-Dīn’s Bāb Dair as-Sir(b), which was reportedly still visible in 1566 but was subsequently blocked with stones: Ghosheh, “Walls and Gates,” p. 124. See also Prawer, “Political History,” p. 27; Wightman, Walls, fig. 83: 5. A rectangular pool is depicted just north of the north-west angle of the city in a map of the early nineteenth century: Robert Richardson, Travels along the Mediterranean, and Parts Adjacent (London, 1822), map opposite p. 238 (No. 87).

Figure 1.8  Schick’s plan (top and bottom) of sections of the rock-cut ditch, with a built glacis (b) and an outer wall (c) to the east of the New Gate (Fig. 1.2: 17). Drawing: Conrad Schick, “Mittheilungen aus Jerusalem,” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins 1 (1878), Plate III. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

Figure 1.9  Schick’s sketch of rock-cut ditch and outer wall between the New Gate and Damascus Gate (Fig. 1.2: 17) with possible postern at No. 7 (Fig. 1.2: 18). (Courtesy of Palestine Exploration Fund Archives: Schick/ 222/3.)

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and the basin-like area in front of Damascus Gate (Fig. 1.10). The area of the Damascus Gate and its various fortifications has been the subject of numerous investigations since the earliest digging operations performed there by Warren in 1867 (Fig. 1.11). It is clear that the medieval gate (St. Stephen`s) with its indirect entrance, situated some 20 meters north of the current gate, straddles the outer wall, but we lack data concerning the ditch that perhaps existed in front of it and to its north.90 Bahat claims the gate in its earliest form (Phase I) was not built before 1183–92, i.e. at the end of Crusader rule.91 The overall appearance of the gate appears to have been substantially modified in the thirteenth century as well. More substantial rock-cut features belonging to a ditch were investigated between Damascus Gate and Herod’s Gate. These remains were first investigated by Pierrotti, de Saulcy and Tobler, and engravings were published to illustrate their observations.92 They include a rock-cut and partly-built sunken installation, described by some as a “pool,” which was situated immediately to the east of Damascus Gate and not far from the entrance to the Cave of Zedekiah (“Solomon’s Quarries”) (Fig. 1.2: 20). These remains were photographed and drawn in the nineteenth century and parts of it were even visible at the very beginning of the twentieth century.93 (Fig. 1.12 a–b) The “pool” was undoubtedly a section of the ditch.94 (Fig. 1.13) A significant stretch of a medieval wall 90 91

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93 94

Wightman, Walls, pp. 265–68, fig. 82; Bahat, “Topography,” 29; Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 53–56, fig. 7.1. Hillel Geva and Dan Bahat, “Architectural and Chronological Aspects of the Ancient Damascus Gate Area,” Israel Exploration Journal 48 (1998), 223–35 (p. 235), fig. 2. According to Pringle, this chronology is contradicted by the art-historical evidence of the paintings in the chapel that formed part of the gate: Pringle, The Churches, Vol. 3, pp. 306–10, and see further bibliography there. Tobler mentioned seeing tombs and stone quarrying in this area, and he also refers to the sunken and rock-cut rectangular feature east of the Damascus Gate, which was partly filled with rubble: Topographie I, pp. 72–73. Tobler sums up previous observations on this feature which appear in written accounts of the eighteenth century, and among them the observations by Richard Pococke from 1738. On the tombs in this area: Barkay, “Three First Temple Burial Caves.” Hinckley G. Mitchell, “The Modern Wall of Jerusalem,” Annual of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem 1 (1919–20), pl. 43. Louis Félcien de Saulcy suggested identifying the rectangular sunken feature as the remains of the Upper Pool of Gihon: Voyage autour de la mer morte et dans les terres bibliques, exécuté de décembre 1850 à avril 1851 (Paris, 1853), pl. XXV (our fig. 1.12a). See also the engravings in Pierotti, Jerusalem Explored, pl. VIII: fig. 1; Cunningham Geikie, The Holy Land and the Bible (London, 1887), p. 488; Charles Wilson, Picturesque Palestine, Vol. I (London, 1883), p. 93; Sepp, Jerusalem und das heilige Land, p. 208. Photographs of these features were also taken by James McDonald (Wilson, Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, photo 32b) in 1864/65, Henry Phillips (PEF) in 1867 (our fig. 1.12b), and by Charles Bierstadt in 1874 (our fig. 1.13). A detailed plan of these features was made by Conrad Schick: PEF Archives/Schick/215. A thorough discussion of these records will appear in the publication of the new survey of Zedekiah Cave and its vicinity by Shimon Gibson and Yehiel Zelinger. Excavations have recently been undertaken at this location,

Figure 1.10  View of northern Old City wall towards the south-west with the buried ditch in front, in a picture from the 1900s (Fig. 1.2: 19). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

Figure 1.11  The outer barbican of the Gate of St. Stephen at the Damascus Gate in a photograph by Henry Phillips from 1867. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

Figure 1.12  (a, above) Rock-cut ditch (“the pool”) seen from the west (Fig. 1.2: 20). Louis Félcien de Saulcy de Saulcy, Voyage autour de la mer morte et dans les terres bibliques, exécuté de décembre 1850 à avril 1851 (Paris, 1853). (b, left) Photograph by Henry Phillips from 1867. (Both courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

Figure 1.13  Rock-cut ditch (“the pool”) (Fig. 1.2: 20) in a photograph by Charles Bierstadt from 1874. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)



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(11 meters), fronting the ditch, was uncovered by Mazor on the north side of the Cave of Zedekiah.95 (Fig. 1.2: 22) A survey within the lower north-eastern chamber of the Cave of Zedekiah has brought to light the inner face of this same wall.96 It would appear that in this specific area the main wall and the outer wall were one and the same, and this is probably because of the presence of the adjacent cave system, which had subterranean chambers extending northwards into the ditch. The exact situation of the main wall dating from the Byzantine to Early Islamic periods at this spot is unknown. Further east, however, portions of this main wall were revealed by Hamilton and traced as far as Herod’s Gate (Fig. 1.2: 23). In front of the main wall (Sounding C) were segments of an outer wall (1.5 meters thick), a tower like-feature (15 x 8 meters; walls 3.8 meters thick), and revetments belonging to a ditch.97 (Fig. 1.14 a–b) A Mamluk coin from 1343–44 (AH 743–44) probably dates the abandonment and infilling of the ditch.98 Another feature of interest that was visible to early researchers is a rectangular structure, described as a “reservoir” (Birket el-Hijjeh), which was seen very close to the entrance to the Rockefeller Museum of today and was built into the ditch.99 (Fig. 1.2: 26) At this point the line of the main wall was situated further south.100 (Fig. 1.15) At the far eastern end of the northern city 25 meters east of the Damascus Gate by Annette Nagar of the Israel Antiquities Authority (pers. comm. Aug. 2020), revealing further parts of the inner wall and features in front of it. One wall is dated to the Crusader/Ayyȗbid period. 95 This portion of the outer wall was uncovered in 1983: Gabi Mazor: “The Northern City Wall of Jerusalem on the Eve of the First Crusade (Excavations at the ‘Jordanian Garden’),” ‘Atiqot 51 (2006), 49*–53* (Hebrew). We are grateful to Gabi Mazor for providing us with copies of his field records. On a map annotated by Conrad Schick, not long before his death in 1901, there is an indication that midway along this buried line of wall there was a tower-like turret as well. This map is now in the archives of the German Protestant Institute of Archaeology, Augusta Victoria, and our thanks to Dieter Vieweger for providing access. 96 This survey was conducted by Shimon Gibson and Yehiel Zelinger and the results are currently being prepared for publication. 97 On the work conducted along the wall between the area of the Cave of Zedekiah eastwards to Herod’s Gate: Robert W. Hamilton, “Excavations Against the North Wall of Jerusalem, 1937–38,” Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine 10 (1944), 1–54, fig. 1 (for the position of the soundings), and plate VIII and fig. 18: ii (for the revetment in Sounding C); cf. Vincent and Steve, Jérusalem de l’ancien testament, pl. XXX:1. On the dating of the main wall: Jodi Magness, “The Walls of Jerusalem in the Early Islamic Period,” Biblical Archaeologist 54/4 (1991), 209–12. 98 Hamilton, “Excavations Against the North Wall,” pp. 50–51. 99 Edward Robinson, Later Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions. A Journal of Travels in the Year 1852 (London, 1856), p. 178; Conrad Schick, “I. The New Road North of the City,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 22/4 (1890), 246–47. 100 Excavations were undertaken along the inner side of the main wall to the east of Herod’s Gate (Areas A, B and C) by Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah, Gideon Avni and Yuval Baruch. In Area B, the inner face of the Byzantine main wall was uncovered (Fig. 1.2: 25), but further east in Areas A and C, the Byzantine wall was not seen beneath the Ottoman wall

Figure 1.14  Revetment wall and turret in Hamilton’s Sounding C: (a, above) view towards the east. (b, left) Close-up showing the turret and revetment wall (Fig. 1.2: 23). (Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority archives.)

Figure 1.15  View of northern Old City wall towards the east with Birket el-Hijjeh in the distance (Fig. 1.2: 26). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)



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wall the rock-cut ditch is clearly visible until today (Fig. 1.2: 29). At this point the counterscarp of the rock-cut ditch is situated 20 meters to the north of the present-day Old City wall (or 16 meters if measured from the towers).101 (Figs 1.16–1.17) The outer wall at the very edge of the ditch can be traced as far as the north-east angle and it is situated directly beneath the present-day Ottoman wall; this implies that the main wall has to have been situated along a parallel line further south, and by our reckoning this was at a distance of 50 meters or so.102 (Fig. 1.2: 28)

(Fig. 1.2: 27). However, segments of another wall which is probably of Crusader to Ayyȗbid period was found, and adjacent to it a collection of arrowheads which may date from the battle of 1187: Gideon Avni, Yuval Baruch, and Shlomit Weksler-Bdloah, “Jerusalem, the Old City: Herod’s Gate,” Excavations and Surveys in Israel 113 (2001), pp. 76*–79*; Yuval Baruch and Gideon Avni, “Excavations East of Herod’s Gate, 1998,” in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. Geva, pp. 229–37 (233). This suggests the main Byzantine to Fāṭimid wall most likely turned to the south, just east of Area B, forming a corner, and then at a distance of 50 meters or so it probably turned back again and ran toward the east wall of today (Fig. 1.2: 28). Burchard of Sion (1285) refers to the “Gate of the Corner” on the north-east side of the city, and it may be that this gate was situated at the exact place where the wall turned toward the south: Pringle, Pilgrimage, pp. 289, 298. Weksler-Bdolah has suggested the Byzantine wall originally ran diagonally toward the south-east, joining the east wall near the Bethesda Pool: “The Fortifications of Jerusalem in the Byzantine Period,” 109, fig. 1, which is certainly possible, but it does not fit well with the new evidence from Re’em and Yeger’s excavations along the east wall north of Lion’s Gate (see note 105, below). 101 A deep cut was made at this location some years ago with mechanical equipment and the operation was supervised by the Israel Antiquities Authority. It showed the ditch has a depth of at least 7 m below the level of the present street. We are grateful to Yuval Baruch for supplying us with a photograph of this trench. 102 A postern is mentioned in twelfth–thirteenth-century sources in the area extending between the main wall and the outer wall, and it was said to give access to that part of the city known as the “quarter of the Jews (Juerie)” (within the present-day Moslem Quarter), and that it led to the Jacobite Church of St. Mary Magdalene (the Ma’muniya School of today). In the Chronique d’Ernoul there is a description of this postern “by which one could not go outside to the fields, but one went between two walls”: Claude R. Conder, The City of Jerusalem (London, 1896), xxii, pp. 24–25; Pringle, Pilgrimage, p. 161. One possibility is that this postern is beneath the current Herod’s Gate and that it led directly south-west to the church. However, it was more likely to have been situated at the corner of the original Byzantine to Early Islamic city wall (see previous note 100). Indeed, Wightman suggested it should be situated east of Herod’s Gate: Walls, pp. 247, 263, fig. 81:2. On the church: Pringle, The Churches, pp. 327–35 (No. 344), and 328 for the postern. In the Lyon Eracles (18; 51) we hear of the “Madeleine” gate of the Jacobites which provided entrance to a spy sent by the barons of Nablus (18). It was also in use at the time of the siege of Jerusalem by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn in 1187 (51): “Between Saint Stephen’s Gate [Damascus Gate] and the Josaphat Gate [Lion’s Gate] which was where the siege was concentrated there was no gate or postern through which the defenders could make a sally and attack the Saracens. The only exception was the gate at the “Madeleine,” which permitted access to the space between the two walls”: Peter W. Edbury, The Conquest of Jerusalem. Sources in Translation (Aldershot, 1998), pp. 25, 56.

Figure 1.16  Rock-cut ditch at the north-east angle of the city towards the west (Fig. 1.2: 29 to 26), in a photograph by the American Colony from c. 1900. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

Figure 1.17  The southern edge of the rock-cut ditch close to the north-east angle of the city (Fig. 1.2: 29), in a photograph by Henry Phillips from 1867. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)



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Figure 1.18  View of rock-cut ditch at the north-east angle of the city towards the north (Fig. 1.2: 30) in a photograph by Henry Phillips from 1867. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

Not much was previously known concerning the eastern line of the fortification wall running between the north-east angle of the Old City and Lion’s Gate (Fig. 1.2: 30), except that the rock-cut ditch could very easily be seen (22 meters wide) and that it could be traced running for a substantial distance toward the south (Fig. 1.18). During renovations conducted at the Church of St. Anne by the engineer Christophe-Edouard Mauss in 1863–67, the western inner face of a large fortification tower (24.5 meters length) belonging to the main wall was exposed.103 (Fig. 1.2: 33) Two phases of construction are evident in the face of 103

Christophe-Edouard Mauss, La Piscine de Bethesda à Jérusalem (Paris, 1888), figs 47 and 48; Vincent and Steve, Jérusalem de l’ancien testament, 1:139–42, figs 55, 57; Shimon Gibson, “The Excavations at the Bethesda Pool in Jerusalem: Preliminary Report on a Project of Stratigraphic and Structural Analysis,” in Sainte-Anne de Jérusalem. La Piscine Probatiquen de Jésus À Saladin. Proche-Orient Chrétien Numéro Spécial, ed. F. Bouwen (2011, Saint Anne: Jerusalem), pp. 17–44 (where the position of Mauss’s tower has been incorrectly marked in fig. 6); see also Abed Rabo, “Jerusalem,” p. 221 and fig. 29:9. Boas rightly suggested that the Byzantine to Fāṭimid wall associated with this tower had to have run a few meters parallel and to the west of the main Ottoman city wall of today, at least in its northern part (see below): Boas, Jerusalem, p. 58, 221, note 96. However, in the south it appears the main Byzantine to Fāṭimid wall does indeed extend beneath the

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the tower (preserved to a height of 6 meters): the lower part was built of roughly coursed fieldstones (4 meters above bedrock), and the upper part consisted of three courses of ashlars (2 meters high) with a concrete core (Fig. 1.19). Immediately to the north-east of this large tower, excavations revealed traces of ashes together with gold coins dating from the end of the tenth century/beginning of the eleventh century. Immediately next to the tower were very large piles of stone blocks, which are probably from the destruction of 1219.104 Hence, we may assume the tower to be Fāṭimid and that it was rebuilt by the Ayyȗbids, perhaps by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn in 1191/92 or by al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā from c. 1202. Recent excavations undertaken in 2018 by Re’em and Yeger for the Israel Antiquities Authority on the east side of the city wall, in the area extending from Lion’s Gate northwards, have brought to light parts of the main wall of Byzantine/ early Islamic date, as well as substantial segments of a medieval outer wall, a Ottoman wall just north of Lion’s Gate (Jehoshaphat Gate). (our Fig. 1.2: 36). It was here that Charles Warren noted segments of this Byzantine to Fāṭimid wall in their soundings H.7 and H.10 that were made against the exterior side of the wall to the north and south of the gate respectively: Charles Warren, Plans, Elevations, Sections, &c., Shewing the Results of the Excavations at Jerusalem, 1867–70 (London, 1884), pl. IV and sections in pl. XVII (our Fig. 1.20); cf. Vincent and Steve, Jérusalem de l’ancien testament, 1:139, fig. 56. Re’em and Yeger recently conducted excavations immediately south and also to the north of Warren’s sounding H.7, finding further sections of this Byzantine to Fāṭimid wall (our Fig. 1.2: 34). However, at a distance of 80 meters north of Lion’s Gate, the Ottoman wall apparently did not follow the Byzantine to Fāṭimid wall but was instead built on top of the line of the medieval outer wall running along the edge of the ditch. See: Mitchell, “Modern Wall,” pls 38 and 39. Hence, at this point the older main wall (Byzantine to Fāṭimid) has to have been situated behind and parallel to the Ottoman wall (i.e. some 3 meters or so to the west of the present-day Old City wall) (our Fig. 1.2: 31). Similarly, at a distance of 120 meters to the east of Herod’s Gate, the Byzantine to Fāṭimid main wall turned toward the south (see note 100, above). For this reason, we think Vincent’s reconstruction of what he supposed was an original tower at the north-west angle, highly unlikely, unless what he was seeing was the angle of the outer wall on the edge of the ditch: Vincent and Steve, Jérusalem de l’ancien testament, 1: fig. 53. 104 Mauss, La Piscine, 22 (d), and pp. 46–47 for the fallen ashlars next to the tower. Mauss also refers to a cross-wall found extending between the lower part of the tower, i.e. the portion built of field stones, and the Crusader church, which further supports the notion that the dismantled/collapsed ashlars in the adjacent fills that were found above it, were likely derived from the upper courses of the tower that were toppled in 1219. Mauss reports on charred wood which he thought was used to shore up tunnels made by “military sappers.” These might relate to Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s siege of 25 September 1187, or to trenches dug to expose the foundations at the time of the dismantling of the tower in 1219. Indeed, sappers (Ar. naqqābīn) were undoubtedly employed to destroy city walls in 1219: Rabei G. Khamisy, “Some Notes on Ayyȗbid and Mamluk Military Terms,” Journal of Medieval Military History 13 (2015), 73–92 (at p. 82). In any case, Franciscan pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem in 1384, noted that on this side of the city there is “no wall, but there is a moat and a fence [i.e. outer wall] which is not very strong, and almost liable to be taken in hand-to-hand fighting by men of arms”: Theophilus Bellorini and Eugene Hoade, ed., Visit to the Holy Places of Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, and Syria in 1384, by Frescobaldi, Gucci & Sigoli (Jerusalem, 1948), p. 76.

Figure 1.19  Plan and section of the tower (Fig. 1.2: 33) on the east side of the Church of St. Anne. Drawing: ChristopheEdouard Mauss, La Piscine de Bethesda à Jérusalem (Paris, 1888). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

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postern-gate and other remains, and substantial toppled stones from the 1219 destruction105 (Fig. 1.2: 34). The Southern Ditch Mount Zion was a logical place for Raymond of St. Gilles to set up camp and to begin preparations for a concerted attack on the southern city wall. Initially his knights had not wanted to shift camp from their previous camp opposite the Tower of David.106 However, the count was able to provide financial incentives, which meant food and water for his men, at a time when many people in the other northern camps were suffering from severe deprivations. The southern camp also had clergy, notably the priest Peter Desiderius, and a fair number of poorer non-combatants, who were later instrumental in hauling timber and filling in the ditch. The proximity of the camp to the nearby ruins of the Church of St. Mary served as a religious inspiration for Raymond and perhaps also for his supporters.107 Strategically, this location was close to the western stretch of the southern city wall and thus it was initially deemed a place from which the Crusaders might easily launch an attack against the city.108 The spot we believe Count Raymond chose was an incline toward the southern gate, i.e. on the east side of the summit of Mount Zion, rather than at a location further west where there was a jumble of ruins just north of the Church of St. Mary. As it later transpired, the situation of the southern camp made it vulnerable to the Fāṭimid counter-attacks using mangonels. The Fāṭimid governor of the city, Iftikhār al-Dawla, made certain there was an unrelenting barrage of stones and fiery bundles that rained down on the camp at the time of the siege. Under the direction of the Genoese sailors and William Embriaco (Ricau), work began We thank Amit Re’em and his co-director, David Yeger, for their courtesy in showing us around their excavations in the summer of 2018. The postern is apparently too far south to be the one referred to in the sources as leading to the Jacobite Church of St. Mary Magdalene (see above, note 102), unless of course control over this postern did not require it to be physically in the immediate proximity of the actual church. Instead, we propose that Re’em and Yeger’s postern actually marks the fifth gate (“Gate of the Dunghill”) in the list of gates given by Burchard of Sion (1285), who situated it in the wall between his fourth gate (“Gate of the Corner” = east of Herod’s Gate of today [see above, note 102]) and his sixth gate (“Sheep Gate” = Lion’s Gate of today). Burchard speaks of this Gate of the Dunghill as not being “much frequented” and that “in rainy weather the filth of the city would run down through it in a torrent”: Pringle, Pilgrimage, p. 298. Since this paper was written a preliminary report on the excavation results has now been published: Amit Re’em, Michael Chernin, Johanna Regev, Elizabetta Boaretto, and David Yeger, “Between Crusaders and Ayyubids: New Discoveries Along the Eastern wall of Jerusalem,” in New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region. Collected Papers Volume XIV, ed. Y. Zelinger, O. Peleg-Barkat, J. Uziel, and Y. Gadot (Jerusalem, 2021), pp. 249–85 (Hebrew). 106 Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 117; Krey, First Crusade, p. 250. 107 Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 117; Krey, First Crusade, p. 251. 108 Gesta Francorum: Krey, First Crusade, p. 256; Dass, Deeds of the Franks, pp. 102–03. 105



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on putting together the southern siege tower, with ropes, tools and nails taken from their ships at Jaffa, and this initiative was funded by Count Raymond.109 Captive Muslims were employed in slave gangs to haul wooden beams to the camp under the supervision of the chaplain of the southern camp.110 By the end of June, substantial steps forward were achieved in creating the square base of the wooden tower. Eventually, the sides of the tower were covered with wickerwork coverings (“wattles”) which were made out of twigs from the low shrubs taken from nearby hills, and animal hides. The fighters in the southern camp were quite surprised to hear that the northern siege tower had been shifted by Godfrey to a more easterly location, not long before the final assault on the city was to be commenced from the north. Those fighting in the south did not move their own tower to an alternative location, and it was kept ready to move into the chosen position close to the southern gate as soon as it was decided the attack was to begin. However, Count Raymond had a different problem to solve. The filling in of the deep ditch (fovea nimis profunda) in front of the city wall was imperative to allow the siege tower and his fighters’ clear access to the fortifications. This was problematic, even at night, because the Fāṭimid archers were easily able to pick off anyone approaching the wall. Count Raymond found the process of filling up the ditch much too slow. Added to his concerns was the fact that Iftikhār had decided that the southern wall on Mount Zion was the weakest spot in his fortifications, and so had brought in additional mangonels to wreak even further havoc on the Crusaders’ southern camp.111 The danger of filling in the southern ditch under such unrelenting enemy artillery fire compelled Count Raymond to offer his fighters a bonus payment and information about this is provided by the anonymous Gesta Francorum: “Now, Count Raymond, from the southern sector, was leading his army and siege tower up near the wall. But between the siege tower and the wall was a ditch. And so it was proclaimed that whoever brought three stones to the ditch would be given a denier. It took three days and nights [11–13 July] to fill the pit; once it was filled, the siege tower was brought up close to the wall; those who were inside [the city] fought marvellously against us with fire and rocks.”112 The attack on the southern wall was commenced on the 14 July. By the afternoon the siege tower had been moved quite close toward the wall, and at one point Count Raymond seems to have decided that the defensive artillery of the 109 Raymond

XIV: Hill and Hill, Raymond, p. 125. Raymond XIV: Hill and Hill, Raymond, pp. 123–24. 111 Prawer assumed that the southern ditch had to have been protected by an outer wall (antemurale), but there is no textual source to support this notion: Prawer, “Political History,” p. 19; see the comments by France, Victory, p. 376, note 37. Excavations conducted along the line of the southern ditch in front of the Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn confirm that there was no outer wall there: Gibson et al., “New Excavations,” pp. 311–12. 112 Gesta Francorum, p. 91: Krey, First Crusade, p. 257; Dass, Deeds of the Franks, p. 103. William of Tyre while basing himself on the earlier chroniclers, also repeats this: WT, VIII.17, p. 408. 110

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Fāṭimids was becoming ineffective. Iftikhār presumably had been waiting for this opportunity, and by concentrating the artillery fire of nine of the mangonels at his disposal, managed to destroy the upper portion of the siege tower.113 Albert of Aachen reports that “the [siege] tower was severely shaken and weakened by their [the Fāṭimid defender’s] frequent and unbearable attacks, and its joints were loosened.”114 Later, a fire took hold of the forward side of the tower, and the Crusaders were reluctantly forced to drag it back and out of harm’s way. The following information is provided by Peter Tudebode: “And after they had filled the moat they moved the siege-tower to another tower [in the main wall]. But those inside the walls fought us with fire and stones until they managed to destroy the upper part of the tower of St. Gilles.”115 The effect of the fire on the siege tower was also reported on by Ibn al-Athīr, writing in c. 1200: “and they erected two towers on the wall, one of them from the side of Sion, which the Muslims burnt and killed everyone in it.”116 But whether this burning was so complete that it rendered the siege tower useless, we are not told. When the Fāṭimid defenders on the southern city wall heard that Godfrey and his men had successfully infiltrated the city from the north, they quickly abandoned “the towers and fortifications [in the south] and fled in different directions, intent on safety alone,” with some of them taking refuge in the Tower of David.117 Another source, William of Tyre’s chronicle (c. 1184), provides a summary concerning the aftermath of the events in the south, with information that contemporary chroniclers did not provide: “the army [of Count Raymond] let down the bridge [of the siege tower], unopposed, raised their ladders to the walls, and entered the city without the slightest hindrance on the part of the enemy. As soon as they themselves were admitted, they threw open the south [Sion/Ṣihyȗn] gate which was nearest to them and let in the rest of the people.”118 It is important to note that in strategic terms the northern fortifications of the city of the tenth and eleventh centuries comprised three lines of defense: a main city wall, an outer wall, and a ditch. In contrast, the southern side of the city however only had two lines of defense: a main city wall and a ditch.119 The Naphta projectiles may very well have been used: Hillenbrand, The Crusades, pp. 528–29; France, Western Warfare, pp. 115–16. 114 Albert of Aachen, Historia 6.15, tr. Edgington, p. 423. 115 Tudebode, Historia de Hierosolymitano itinere, ed. John H. Hill and Laurita L. Hill, Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society (Philadelphia, PA, 1974), p. 140. 116 Ibn al-Athīr, al-Kamil fi’l-ta’rikh, tahqiq omar tadmori (Beirut, 2012), 8:425 (Arabic). We are grateful to Omar Abed Rabo for this translation. See also: Gabrieli, Arab Historians, 10 (x), pp. 193–95. 117 Ibn al-Athīr mentions those who took refuge in the miḥrāb dāud: Gabrieli, Arab Historians, 11 (x), pp. 193–95. On Raymond’s interaction with the Fāṭimids at David’s Tower and on the opening of the adjacent gate: Tudebode, Historia de Hierosolymitano itinere, pp. 118–20. 118 William of Tyre also provides a list of names of some of those who passed through this gate, mentioning that Raymond of Toulouse was at their head: WT, VIII.19, pp. 410–11. 119 Contra Prawer, “The Jerusalem the Crusaders Captured,” p. 3. 113



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Figure 1.20  Sections through the east wall next to the Lion’s Gate in excavations conducted by Warren (Fig. 1.2: 36). Drawings: Charles Warren, Plans, Elevations, Sections, &c., Shewing the Results of the Excavations at Jerusalem, 1867-70 (London, 1884), Plate XVII. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

southern stretch of the western city wall, extending from the south of the Citadel to the south-west angle of the Old City of today, must have been particularly vulnerable since it did not have any defensive outworks in front of the main wall (Fig. 1.2: 39). Excavations conducted there by Broshi have shown that the city wall in this area dates back to the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, and even earlier, and that it was evidently repaired and used during the Fāṭimid/ Seljȗk, Crusader and Ayyȗbid periods.120 There was no outer wall or ditch in front of it, and the defenders of the city in these periods appear to have relied on the relative steepness of the slope descending into the Hinnom Valley to the west. This stretch of wall did however have one weakness – an assault could be 120 Magen

Broshi and Shimon Gibson, “Excavations along the Western and Southern Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem,” in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. Geva, pp. 147–55.

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mounted from the north-west, immediately south of the Tower of David, which is probably why Count Raymond’s camp when the Crusaders first arrived in Jerusalem was originally positioned on the opposite side of the valley (possibly in the area of the Chapel of St. George) perhaps to explore fully the possibility of an attack from this side. Surrounding the Citadel to the south and west is a built ditch, which may have originated in the twelfth century, but it was later heavily restored in Mamluk and Ottoman times. A large tower situated halfway along the main western city wall (Fig. 1.2: 39) and a massive tower-bastion at the south-west angle of the city (Fig. 1.2: 40) were both (re)built in the Ayyȗbid period, presumably to defend the vulnerability of the main wall in this area. Additional data relevant to our discussion have emerged from soundings that were made by Broshi along the western stretch of the southern Ottoman city wall, i.e. in the area extending from the south-west angle of the city toward the present-day Zion Gate (Fig. 1.2: 41). Small parts of a sloping ditch were uncovered in several of these soundings, but no determination could be made at that time concerning the precise southern or northern limits of the ditch. Indeed, the small size of the areas excavated was not very helpful in clarifying the date of the ditch, other than the fact that it had to pre-date the mid-sixteenth-century foundation trench of the Ottoman city wall, on the one hand, and that it extended down to the ruined walls of houses of late Byzantine date, on the other. The Fāṭimid main wall was evidently situated parallel to and north of the current line of the Ottoman Old City wall, and it remains unexcavated.121 (Fig. 1.2: 42) The remains of an Ayyȗbid tower were uncovered below the current Zion Gate.122 (Fig. 1.2: 44) A Crusader-period gate (Belcayre/Belcaire) appears to have existed in the line of the wall corresponding to the southern end of the current Armenian Quarter Street, and it may very well have been a restoration of a Fāṭimid We estimate that the main Fāṭimid wall is probably situated some 10 meters to the north of the present Ottoman city wall and that it ran parallel to it from east to west (Fig. 1.2: 42). On the west, in the unexcavated part of the Armenian Garden, it presumably joined the center of the east wall of the large tower unearthed at the south-west angle of the city (Fig. 1.2: 40). One small section of a wall seen adjoining the south-east corner of this tower, directly beneath the Ottoman city wall, is probably part of the curtain wall of Ayyȗbid date. A curtain wall from this period (W4) was also traced extending between the Belcayre Gate (Fig. 2: 43) and the ancient tower that is beneath the present-day Zion Gate (Fig. 2: 44); it too dates from the Ayyȗbid period. For a summary of the remains in this area and bibliography: Jon Seligman, “Yet Another Medieval Tower and Section of Jerusalem’s Ancient Walls (Armenian Patriarchate Road),” ‘Atiqot 42 (2002), pp. 261–76, fig. 2. 122 Magen Broshi and Yoram Tsafrir, “Excavations at the Zion Gate, Jerusalem,” Israel Exploration Journal 27 (1977), 28–37. Note that Broshi and Tsafrir state (p. 34) that the foundation date of this tower is unknown, even though it was clear to them that it was undoubtedly functioning in the Ayyȗbid period. On excavations at the tower situated west of Zion Gate: Aren M. Maier, “Mount Zion Gleanings,” Israel Exploration Journal 40 (1990), pp. 68–70; Seligman, “Yet Another Medieval Tower.” Boas has suggested dating the underlying curtain wall to the eleventh century and the gate tower to the twelfth century: Jerusalem, pp. 58–59. 121



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Figure 1.21  Plan showing excavations in front of the Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn. (Drawing: Steve Patterson and UNC Charlotte’s Mount Zion archaeological expedition. Reproduced by permission of the UNC Charlotte Mount Zion archaeological expedition.)

postern that had once existed there (Bāb et-Tih) and which was mentioned by al-Maqdisī in 985.123 (Fig. 1.2: 43) Important information on the elusive southern ditch that was such an important defensive barrier for the Fāṭimids at the time of Count Raymond’s assault on the southern city wall in 1099 has emerged in recent excavations in front of the Sion/Ṣiyhȗn Gate, at the foot of the Ottoman Old City wall and to the east of the present-day Zion Gate.124 (Fig. 1.2: 46) This ditch (Fig. 1.21) was undoubtedly an This was the “New Gate of Belcayre” (porta nova de Balcayra) mentioned in a source from 1178. Hans E. Mayer, “Die porta nova de Belcayra im Jerusalem der Kreuzfahrer,” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 119/2 (2003), 183–90. It may be the same as the gate referred to in 1179 as “faciendam portam”: Vincent and Abel, Jérusalem Nouvelle, Fasc. II, p. 945; Wightman, Walls, p. 262. Pringle recently published a rental document dated to c. 1157 and 1163, which refers (No. 15) to a woman living inside the city wall of the Belcaire neighborhood, but there is no mention of a gate or postern as such: Denys Pringle, “Rental Document of Twelfth-century Jerusalem,” in Deeds Done Beyond the Sea: Essays on William of Tyre, Cyprus and the Military Orders Presented to Peter Edbury, ed. Susan B. Edgington and Helen J. Nicholson (Farnham, 2014), pp. 181–96 (184, 192). 124 Bahat originally wrote on the subject of the southern ditch on Mount Zion: “the problem of its existence is clearly a problem for which we have no solution” (translation from 123

Figure 1.22  The earth-filled ditch in front of the Gate of Sion/Bāb Ṣihyȗn (Fig. 1.2: 46) as revealed in UNC Charlotte’s 2018 season of excavations, looking west. (Photograph: Rafael Y. Lewis.)

Figure 1.23  A silver coin from the reign of Caliph al-Mustanṣir dated 1036–1094, from the bottom of the ditch (Loc. 2060). (Photograph: Rafael Y. Lewis.)



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integral part of the Fāṭimid southern defenses and it must have been cut at some point in time prior to 1094 (AH 487), according to numismatic evidence found in excavations at the bottom of the ditch (Fig. 1.23). Tentatively, we suggest the ditch was created sixty years earlier at the time of Caliph al-Ẓāhir in 1034.125 The ditch is estimated to have had a width of at least 15–17 meters (Fig. 1.22). The ditch clearly extended westwards as far as the south-west angle of the city, as we have seen from Broshi’s excavations there, which suggests a total length of at least 360 meters. The main wall ran behind it and one stretch of this wall (45 meters in length, and about 2.5 meters wide) was uncovered in Area T-4 of Avigad’s excavations in the late 1970s, and it was seen within (i.e. on the north side of) the Ottoman wall and parallel to it (some 6 meters distant).126 (Fig. 1.2: 47) The wall also had a postern (3 meters wide) with internal buttresses on either side.127 We suggest the wall dates from the time of Caliph al-‘Aziz (c. 975), but that the gate-tower was built by Caliph al-Mustanṣir (between 1059 and 1063), with Calpih al-Ẓāhir subsequently responsible in 1034 for the actual cutting of the ditch in front of the fortifications. The excavations showed that that the ditch was intentionally filled in not long after the Crusader conquest. Indeed, numismatic evidence suggests the ditch had already disappeared from view by the time of Baldwin III (c. 1152/1153).128 Following the conquest of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Hebrew): “Topography,” p. 39a, note 70. Wightman similarly stated that “the ditch across Mount Sion has yet to be found”: Walls, p. 247, and note 66 on p. 248. See also: Boas, Jerusalem, p. 48. 125 The infilling of the ditch was found to include mostly late Byzantine to Abbasid pottery (seventh–ninth centuries), with a very small amount of Fāṭimid/Seljȗk ceramics (tenth– eleventh centuries), including one fragment of imported celadon ware. A silver coin from the reign of Caliph al-Mustanṣir dated 1036–94 (AH 427-487) was found in the fill at the bottom of the ditch (Loc. 2060) (our Fig. 1.23). We are grateful to Robert Kool for his identification of this coin. 126 Avigad suggested the wall was Abbasid and that it was reused during the Crusader period, but the evidence that he adduced for this is uncertain: Nahman Avigad, Discovering Jerusalem (Jerusalem, 1980), p. 251. See also the comments in Bahat, “Topography,” p. 31; Gibson et al., “New Finds,” p. *46. 127 Wightman suggests this narrow doorway was the original Bāb Ṣihyȗn (Sion) that was mentioned by al-Maqdisī: Walls, p. 245. We think this is unlikely. 128 An ashy layer containing metal objects, notably an arrowhead, crossbow bolts and a hook, and coins from c. 1152/53, was uncovered and its significance is still being investigated. It may be proffered tentatively as evidence for the fighting that occurred when Baldwin III laid siege to Jerusalem in his attempt to wrest power from his mother Queen Melisende, resulting in her then taking up refuge in the Citadel on the west side of Jerusalem. William of Tyre relates that “the king [Baldwin III], bent on carrying out his intention [of assuming rule over Jerusalem], placed his camp before the city, and the citizens, to avert the royal wrath, finally opened the gates and admitted him with his troops. He at once laid siege to the citadel, whither his mother had retreated. He set up his engines in position for assault, and, with ballistae, bows, and [stone] hurling machines, stormed it in enemy fashion.” WT, XVIII.14, pp. 831–32. It is widely assumed that Baldwin attacked the city from the west. However, we do not know where he first established his camp or camps. Indeed, William’s text makes it clear that the siege was conducted in two stages: first, there was a

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in 1187, this line of wall was transformed into the “inner wall” of the city, and a new “outer wall” was built to encompass Mount Zion and it extended as far as Burj Kibrit. The façade and western wall of the Sion/Ṣiyhȗn Gate tower-gate was eventually rebuilt by the Ayyȗbids, but it was substantially destroyed in 1219.129 A similar history for the southern fortifications may be assumed for the stretch of main wall and towers extending between Burj Kibrit (Fig. 1.2: 49) and Dung Gate (Fig. 1.2: 53), though clear stratigraphical information from excavations in this area is still lacking.130 The south-eastern corner of the Nea Church building appears to have been utilized in this fortification line (Fig. 1.2: 50), with a smaller tower or turret (Fig. 1.2: 52) situated half-way between this location and the large tower-gate situated at Dung Gate.131 (Figs 1.2: 53; 1.25 a: 3) Part of a city wall (2.80 meters thick) was traced by Mazar, extending from the south-western corner of the Ḥaram aš-Šarīf to the west for 20 meters, reaching the eastern jambstone of a gate or postern (perhaps representing the original “Gate of the Tannery”?) (Figs 1.2: 54; 1.25 a–b: 2). The continuation of this wall toward the west is unknown. Its date could not be ascertained on stratigraphic grounds, even though Mazar did attribute it to the time of Crusader rule.132 (Fig. 1.24) Not much is known about the wall, except that it was built out of reused stones; indeed, it came to be dismantled very early on in the excavation.133 In our siege of the city in front of its “gates,” and then, second, after Baldwin had been admitted into the city, another attack was made on the Citadel itself but not from outside but from inside the city. 129 Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 56–57; Gibson et al., “New Excavations,” p. 312. 130 Y. Margovsky, “Jérusalem: Bordj Kabrit et environs,” Revue Biblique 78 (1971), 597–98; Meir Ben-Dov, “Excavations and Architectural Survey of the Archaeological Remains Along the Southern Wall of the Jerusalem Old City Wall,” in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. Geva, pp. 311–20. 131 Schick identified a fragment of a thick wall approximately 80 meters to the north of the Nea Church angle, where it could be seen to turn eastwards on a direct line toward the section of wall on the west side of the large tower near Dung Gate (Fig. 1.2: 51). Schick thought it resembled the medieval wall excavated by Bliss and Dickie around Mount Zion: Conrad Schick, “III. Reports by Dr. Conrad Schick. III. Remains of an Ancient City Wall,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 30/2 (1898), 79–85 (p. 82). Two segments of this same wall are visible on August Kümmel’s map “Karte der Materialien zur Topographie des Alten Jerusalem,” scale: 1:2,500 (Leipzig, 1904), but they have a slightly different orientation from the wall Schick had identified. These massive walls were likely associated with the large Justinian Nea Church complex, but may very well have been utilized later as foundations in the Fāṭimid or Crusader main wall. 132 Mazar identified the wall as Crusader, with a suggested construction date of c. 1182: Benjamin Mazar, The Excavations in the Old City of Jerusalem Near the Temple Mount. Preliminary Report of the Second and Third Seasons, 1969–1970 (Jerusalem, 1971), p. 22. Plate 11 (Hebrew); idem, The Mountain of the Lord (New York, 1975), 279. For a picture of this fortification wall taken in November 1969: Gibson et al., “New Finds,” p. 47, fig. 10. 133 The foundations of this wall were thought to have cut through a plot of land, adjacent to the south-west angle of the Ḥaram aš-Šarīf and beneath the area of Robinson’s Arch, and that it had Seljȗk graves in it dating from 1070–98: Ya’aqov Billig and Ronny Reich, “A



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Figure 1.24  A view of the Temple Mount excavations from October 1969, with the Fāṭimid or Crusader city wall seen center-right (with ladder against the north side) (Fig. 1.2: 54). Note the eastern jamb of a postern at the western end of this wall. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

opinion, this wall was likely to have been originally a Fāṭimid/Seljȗk fortification, which then came to be reused or rebuilt by the Crusaders. The foundation of the large tower-gate situated about 15 meters to the west of the Dung Gate may also be from this period, though it was undoubtedly rebuilt at the time of the Ayyȗbids.134 (Fig. 1.2: 53) The southern wall of the Ḥaram aš-Šarīf served as the main southern line of defense on the south-eastern side of the city during Fāṭimid/Seljȗk rule, with a New Explanation Regarding the Inscription ‘Your Heart will Rejoice…’ on the Western Wall,” in New Studies on Jerusalem, Proceedings of the Third Conference, ed. Avraham Faust and Eyal Baruch (Ramat-Gan, 1997), p. 21. However, it should be emphasized that the exact stratigraphic relationship between these graves and the fortification is very much uncertain. Unfortunately, the excavator, who dated the graves to 1071, did not provide much detail: Mazar, Excavations in the Old City, p. 21. Interestingly, a sketch map of these graves based on data given by the field supervisor of the excavations, Meir Ben-Dov, was reproduced in Abed Rabo, “Jerusalem,” p. 420, fig. 51. It is quite possible that these graves post-date the wall and not the other way round. 134 Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 59–62. This may have been the “Iron Gate” referred to c. 1170 by John of Würzburg (163), and which was said to have been at the southern end of the Valley Street and to the east of St. Peter in Chains (“St. Peter ad Vincula”), and that the continuation of this street led to the eastern slope of Mount Zion: Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrimage 1099–1185, p. 268. Wightman suggested that the eastern section of the southern Fāṭimid wall may have run eastward from the Dung Gate and over the ruined southern walls of Umayyad Buildings II and III: Walls, p. 238. However, see the discussion in Prag, Excavations by K. M. Kenyon, pp. 286–87. On the Dung Gate itself, see now: Jean-Michel de Tarragon, “The Five Transformations of Dung Gate-Bab al-Maghariba in Jerusalem,” Jerusalem Quarterly 91 (2022), 91–138.

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Figure 1.25  Aerial views of the Temple Mount excavations from the 1970s, showing the line of the Fāṭimid or Crusader city wall (No. 1; see Fig. 1.2: 56), the position of another wall at the south-west corner (No. 2; see Fig. 1.2: 54), and a tower at Dung Gate (No. 3: see Fig. 1.2: 53). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

gateway complex that was erected in front of the earlier Double Gate (known as ez Zāwiya el-Khatniyya).135 (Fig. 1.2: 55) This gateway complex appears to have been completely rebuilt and refurbished by the Knight Templars, in order to facilitate their access to the Ḥaram from the south. In addition, at that time, an outer wall (with two small squared turrets?) existed to the south and more or less ran parallel with the southern Ḥaram wall at a distance of 30 meters from it (Fig. 1.2: 56). On the west the wall probably joined the gateway complex in front of the Double Gate.136 (Fig. 1.25: 1) At some point on the east the wall would have turned northwards to join the south-east corner of the Ḥaram, or perhaps it joined the Ḥaram close to the Single Gate as Ben-Dov suggested.137 (Fig. 1.2: Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 66–68. See: Shimon Gibson, “History of Research and Documentation along the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount: From Frederick Catherwood to Conrad Schick,” in Excavations, Conservation Work and Research along the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount and its Corners. AJP series, vol. III, ed. Yuval Baruch, Joe Uziel, Moran Hagbi, and Ronny Reich (Jerusalem, 2023). 136 Meir Ben-Dov, Jerusalem’s Fortifications: The City Walls, the Gates, and the Temple Mount (Tel-Aviv, 1983), pp. 70–71 (Hebrew). The aerial view on p. 70 of Ben-Dov’s book indicates that a stretch of 50 meters of this wall was eventually exposed in the digging, but the map on p. 71: No. 7, appears to represent nothing more than a reconstruction of the wall. Unfortunately, this wall was eventually dismantled and so it cannot be seen today. See also further comments on this wall in: Bahat, “Topography,” p. 25, 33, note 1; Boas, Jerusalem, pp. 47–48; Gabriela Glücksmann and Robert Kool, “Crusader Period Finds from the Temple Mount Excavations in Jerusalem,” ‘Atiqot 26 (1995), 87–104, fig. 1: W, plan 2. Ben-Dov assumed an Ayyȗbid date for this wall: Jerusalem’s Fortifications, p. 70; and in this he was followed by Wightman, Walls, p. 275. 137 Ben-Dov believes the wall would have met the eastern portion of the southern Ḥaram wall, close to the position of the Single Gate, rather than at the south-eastern corner of the Ḥaram: Ben-Dov, Jerusalem’s Fortifications, p. 70. He may be right – the fortification 135



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57) The exact date of this wall is uncertain and it could be either Fāṭimid/Seljȗk or Crusader. Ben-Dov assumed it to be Ayyȗbid but the grounds for dating this wall to that time are not provided. The wall was most likely an integral part of the outwork fortifications established by the Templars “to guard their homes and palace [i.e. the Aqsa Mosque]” as we clearly hear from the German monk Theoderic (c. 1172).138 The overall fortification process in Jerusalem under Fāṭimid/Seljȗk and Crusader rule undoubtedly came to fruition in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and for that reason we believe it is worthwhile adding to this paper a brief review of what is known concerning Ayyȗbid fortification measures and the ditch outworks from that time. Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s Fortification Effort in 1191/92 and the Ditch on Mount Zion A year before his death Nūr al-Dīn announced his intention of liberating Jerusalem. This was a pivotal moment for Muslims, who began reflecting on the possibility that they might finally recapture the city from the Franks. The person who eventually achieved this however was Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn (Saladin), on 2 October 1187 (583 AH), and many have regarded this conquest as the pinnacle achievement of his military career. Ahead of his arrival, the Christian defenders of the city strengthened their fortifications, and placed catapult artillery on the towers. On arriving, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn encamped on the west side of the city, and spent a few days riding around the city in late September to check out the defensive vulnerabilities of the city’s enceinte.139 Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn eventually appears to have considered two directions from which he might mount an attack: the area on the south, from the summit of Mount Zion,140 and on the north-west, from the area extending between the miḥrāb dāud (Citadel) and St. Stephen’s Gate (Damascus Gate).141 Ultimately, he decided to concentrate his attack at the latter location, pitching his camp nearby, and the ensuing battle that took place in front of these was preserved beneath a prominent line of a substantial terrace wall, which can be seen in nineteenth-century photographs extending as far as the east end of the southern Ḥaram wall rather than to its south-east angle. 138 Theoderic XIX: Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrimage, p. 295. 139 On the ditches that Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn encountered in his sieges of Karak (1184/85) and Sahyun (1188): Hillenbrand, The Crusades, pp. 534–36. The mid-twelfth-century rock-cut ditch which separated Karak Castle from the town, on its north side, has a width of 20–25 meters wide and a depth of 30 meters: Micaela Sinibaldi, “Karak Castle in the Lordship of Transjordan: Observations on the Chronology of the Crusader-period Fortress,” in Bridge of Civilizations. The Near East and Europe, c. 1100–1300, ed. Peter Edbury, Denys Pringle and Balázs Major (Oxford, 2019), pp. 97–114 (104, 112). 140 ‘Imad ad-Din (47-69) says that at one point Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn encamped with his troops on Mount Zion, near one of the gates in the southern wall, which may have been the Bāb Ṣihyȗn (Gate of Sion): Gabrieli, Arab Historians, p. 174. 141 In the Lyon Eracles (50) we hear that Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn “laid siege to the walls from the [Tower of] David Gate as far as the Gate of Saint Stephen”: Edbury, The Conquest of Jerusalem, p. 55.

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walls lasted eight days. He was unable however to launch a successful artillery attack from that direction on the main wall. On 25 September, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn shifted his attack to the north-east, to the area between St. Stephen’s Gate and Jehosaphat Gate (Lion’s Gate), and he established a lookout position situated on the Mount of Olives to allow him to follow the assault. It was here his artillery attack was finally successful. According to the Lyon Eracles, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s forces then “came up to the ditch and set their sappers to work. In two days they had undermined fifteen toises [c. 30 m] of the wall. After they had mined and shored up their tunnel, they put in combustible material and set it on fire with the result that the wall fell outwards into the ditch. The Christians could not dig a countermine against the Saracens for they feared the petraries and the mangonels and the crossbow bolts and could not withstand them.”142 At one point, Ibn al-Athīr (writing c. 1200) tells us: “They [the Muslims] charged like one man, dislodged the Franks from their positions and drove them back into the city. When the Muslims reached the moat they crossed it, came up under the walls and began to breach them, protected by their archers and by continuous artillery fire which kept the walls clear of Franks and enabled the Muslims to make a breach and fill it with the usual [combustible] materials.”143 Ibn Shaddād indicates that this was at the wall close to the northern angle of the city, and that the sappers eventually successfully made a hole in the wall.144 In a florid passage, ʿImād al-Dīn al-Iṣfahānī (writing in c. 1192), who had personally accompanied Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn to Jerusalem, wrote about this attack: “the enemy’s ordnance was smashed and broken, the moat crossed and the attack sustained. The victory of Islam was clear…”.145 The Christian inhabitants consequently asked Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn for clemency and safe-conduct out of the city, and after negotiation this was eventually granted. The first thing Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn did was to take control of the Tower of David. Unlike the 1099 conquest, the 1187 assault did not end in a bloodbath of the city inhabitants. At Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s insistence and with his personal contribution, as well as with the financial collaboration of some of his amīrs, including his brother al-Malik al-ʿĀdil, Jerusalem came to be refortified between December 1191 (587 AH) and October 1192 (588 AH). The new line of the fortifications was more or less along the same line as the previous Crusader defenses, but with one major 142 Lyon

Eracles, 51; Edbury, The Conquest of Jerusalem, pp. 56-57. There is also the episode related in the Lyon Eracles (53) during which the attackers set up ladders against the walls and for a brief time gained access to the battlements, where they even set up their banners. 143 Ibn al-Athīr (xi.361–66): Gabrieli, Arab Historians, p. 141. 144 The passage by Bahā’ al-Dīn Ibn Shaddād reads as follows: “Eventually, he [Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn] undermined the city wall on the side next to the Valley of Gehenna Valley [i.e. the Jehosaphat/Kidron Valley] in the northern angle”: al-Nawādir al-Sulṭāniyya wa’l Maḥāsin al-Yȗsufiyya (Cairo, 1899–1900), p. 53 (77) (Arabic): D. S. Richards, ed., The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin, Crusade Texts in Translation 7 (Aldershot, 2002) p. 77; cf. Stanley Lane-Poole, Saladin and the Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (London, 1985), p. 226. 145 ‘Imad ad-Din (47–69): Gabrieli, Arab Historians, p. 156.



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exception. A completely new southern (outer) wall was established around the summit of Mount Zion and it too had a rock-cut ditch in front of it. This new wall consequently transformed the original earlier southern wall of the Fāṭimids and Crusaders into an “inner wall.” It would seem that Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn ignored the even earlier southern fortification line from the Byzantine and early Islamic periods, which ran around the southern slope of Mount Zion (Fig. 1.2: 66–68). Indeed, his workmen probably quarried these ruined towers and curtain walls for their stones.146 A passage by ʿAbd al-Laṭīf (quoted by Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa) is quite instructive: “He [Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn] was then concerned with building walls and digging trenches round Jerusalem. He took charge of it himself and even carried stones on his shoulders, so that all, rich and poor, strong and weak, followed his example, including even the scribe ‘Imad al-Din and the qāḍī al-Fadil.”147 According to Al ‘Umari, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn “began rebuilding and fortifying Jerusalem and he ordered the troops to carry stones. The sultan himself was carrying stones on his horse in order to give an example thereby to the troops.”148 A very detailed description of this refortification of the city is given by ʿImād ad-Dīn al-Kātib al-Iṣfahānī in his work entitled The Eloquent Exposition of the Conquest of Jerusalem, concerning events that he himself witnessed, beginning with the decision to make the northern ditch much more unassailable: “On this day [January 1192], a group of stonemasons [ḥajjārīn]149 arrived from Mosul, and I counted them as fifty men, and if they gathered together they could cut a mountain. The Governor of Mosul sent them to Jerusalem to work in the trench [khandaq] and to deepen it by digging and cutting into the rock… they stayed in Jerusalem half a year.”150 The second phase of these operations consisted of the building of a wall and ditch around the summit of Mount Sion to the south,151 and with additional refortification efforts taking place on the north-west side of the city as well. ‘Imād al-Dīn writes about this as follows:

146 This

is clear from the wall segment published in Frederick Jones Bliss and Archibald Campbell Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, 1894–1897 (London, 1898), p. 69: wall specimen I’-J’, with reused ashlars that were evidently taken from earlier Byzantine–Abbasid fortifications. 147 Hillenbrand, The Crusades, p. 192, and bibliography in note 63 on p. 252. 148 Hillenbrand, The Crusades, pp. 476–77. 149 Apparently, ḥajjārīn (“stoneworkers”) and jaṣṣīṣīn (“moat-diggers”) were terms that were used interchangeably for similar groups of quarrymen: Khamisy, “Some Notes,” p. 81. 150 ʿImād al-Dīn ad-Kātib al-Iṣfahānī, al-Fatḥ al-quṣṣī fī’l-fatḥ al-Qudsī, Misr: al- Matb’aha al-Khaiyriyya, 1322 H/1904, (Arabic), p. 314. We are grateful to Omar Abed Rabo for this translation. For a discussion concerning this source: D. S. Richards, “A Consideration of Two Sources for the Life of Saladin,” Journal of Semitic Studies 25 (1980), 46–65. 151 Abȗ Shāma wrote concerning the fortification of Mount Zion, that: “He [Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn] turned the city wall over [i.e. around] the summit of Sion, which he thus joined to Jerusalem, and he surrounded the whole city with ditches”: Abȗ Shāma, K. ar-Rawḍatayn, Vol. 2 (Cairo, 1871–72), p. 205; Wightman, Walls, 273; Ghosheh, “Walls and Gates,” p. 118.

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The Sultan [Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn] decided to dig a new deep trench [khandaq] and to create a strong wall. And he brought from among the prisoners of the Franks nearly two thousand, and arranged them at the two building sites. And [he then] renewed the defensive towers from Bāb al’Amud [Damascus Gate] to the Gate of the Miḥrāb [Jaffa Gate], and he spent money on them out of his own account. And they built it with great heavy stones, and it came to be more firm and stronger than the mountains. The stone that was cut from the trench [khandaq] was used in building the wall, and the architecture was completed according to what had been arranged for the Holy Site [the Ḥaram]. It was safe from the intent of the defeated enemy, and in the infallibility of God from the forbidden fear. He divided up the building of the wall in the locations between his children. And with his brother, al–Malik al-‘Ᾱdil and his princes [amīrs], he rode every day and urged on the construction. People went out with him to carry the stones to the building sites, and he did this by himself and using his group of followers and princes. For this was gathered, ‘ulamā’ [scholars], qāḍīs [judges], sufis, the soldiers and the inhabitants… He built in a short time, what might have taken years.152

Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s son al-Afḍal took charge of the rebuilding effort on the line of wall between Bāb al-‘Amud (Damascus Gate) and Bāb al-Rahma (Golden Gate), on the north-east to east sides of the city (Fig. 1.2: 37), and it appears an amīr was appointed to supervise the building of each individual tower.153 The primary reason why Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn had a new wall built to encompass Mount Zion from the south-west was because of his concern over the obvious vulnerability of the southern defenses to an external attack, but perhaps he also wanted to protect the buildings on the summit of Mount Zion. This new wall, naturally, afforded a greater protection to the course of the principal lower water aqueduct as it entered the city at this point (Fig. 1.29). Scholars assumed that the previous Fāṭimid/Seljȗk and Crusader southern wall, the one extending between the present-day south-west angle of the Old City and Burj Kibrit, was totally abandoned following the construction of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s new wall in 1191/92. However, there is no archaeological evidence to support this notion. Indeed, it is more likely both of these southern fortification lines were in use at the same time, i.e. with the older line becoming the “inner” wall, and with the new wall serving as the “outer” wall, especially since the latter now had a much more substantial rock-cut ditch running in front of it. The line of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s wall was still visible in later periods and it was occasionally indicated on later medieval maps as an “ancient” city wall.154 Imād al-Dīn, al-Fath al-Qussi, p. 314. Ibn al-Athīr (x.211). There are four inscriptions on Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s building work in Jerusalem relating to the construction of defense walls, a tower, and the cutting of a ditch (khandaq): Myriam Rosen-Ayalon, “Art and Architecture in Ayyȗbid Jerusalem,” Israel Exploration Journal 40 (1990), 306; Mahmoud K. Hawari, Ayyȗbid Jerusalem (1187– 1250): An Architectural and Archaeological Study, BAR International Series No. 1628 (2007), pp. 23, 194: Appendix IV:194. 154 Reinhold Röhricht, “Karten und Pläne zur Palästinakunde aus dem 7. bis 16. Jahrhundert,” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 15 (1892), pp. 185–88, fig. 6. 152 153



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Figure 1.26  Re-used ashlars from an Ayyubid tower situated on the south-west slope of Mount Zion (Fig. 1.2: 59). (Photograph: Shimon Gibson.)

The archaeological evidence for Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s new wall was uncovered by Bliss and Dickie during their excavations on Mount Zion. Bliss and Dickie began their work in May 1894 on the south-west slope of Mount Zion in the area of the Protestant Cemetery adjoining Bishop Gobat’s school, known as the “Rock Scarp of Zion,” which had previously been examined in turn by Charles Wilson, Charles Warren and Claude R. Conder, and excavated by the engineer Henry Maudsley from 1874.155 (Fig. 1.2: 59–60) Almost every published map depicting Jerusalem of the early Roman period shows a prominent rock scarp with two towers situated on the south-west slope of Mount Zion (Conder’s “Rock Scarp of Zion”) and these are taken as representing a prime feature of the “First” wall fortification of that period. However, a careful examination of the two towers and rock-cut scarp at 155

The first to indicate a line of rock scarp at this location was Richardson, Travels, map opposite p. 238 (No. 68), and Robinson also mentioned clearance activities conducted there: Later Biblical Researches, 1852: p. 179. The scarp was also examined by Wilson (1866: p. 61, photo 37b) at the time of the Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem in 1864/65: Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem, 61, photo 37b: showing the rock-cut steps. These steps ascending to the second tower were also cleared during Charles Warren’s work in the city beginning in 1867: Warren, “Excavations in Jerusalem,” in The Recovery of Jerusalem. A Narrative of Exploration and Discovery in the City and the Holy Land, ed. William Morrison (London, 1871), p. 280. The serious work of clearance along the scarp was undertaken by the engineer Maudsley but his results were never published. Reports on his findings were partly written up by Charles F. Tyrwhitt-Drake (PEF Archives: WS/ DRA/83), cf. James Neil, Palestine Explored (New York, 1882, pp. 285–91).

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this location, as well as that of the walls and rock-cut ditch seen extending from Tower A-B-C towards the north-east, indicates they are entirely of medieval date. The tower situated beneath the Gobat School is rock-cut but the original masonry has not been preserved in situ. It is 13.7 x 13.7 meters and has an extant height of 6.10 meters, and with a flight of rock-cut steps.156 (Fig. 1.26) The south-eastern Tower A-B-C is 13.10 x 9.75 meters and it has a preserved height of 13.71 meters, and a flight of thirty-six rock-cut steps ascending to it from outside. Bliss and Dickie were able to uncover three courses of masonry at point B on top of a rock base (Figs 1.27 and 1.28). The medieval date for the scarp and towers is certain for three reasons. First, the ashlar masonry of Tower A-B-C resembles similarly dressed stonework seen in walls from better-dated medieval (Fatimid to Ayyubid) fortifications from other parts of the city fortifications.157 Second, the rock-cut steps, which accessed the towers externally, have parallels at other locations in the medieval fortifications of Jerusalem. Finally, there was the discovery by Bliss and Dickie of a substantial layer of fallen drafted masonry next to the corner at B, extending to a depth of at least 3 meters below the level of the rock base of the tower, 156 Claude

R. Conder, “The Survey of Palestine. VI. Rock Indications at Jerusalem,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 4/4 (1872), 165–73 (pp. 167–68); idem, “The Survey of Palestine. The Zion Scarp,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 7/1 (1875), 5–27 (pp. 7–10); idem, “The Survey of Palestine. XXX. The Rock Scarp of Zion,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 7/2 (1875), 63–94 (pp. 81–89); Charles Warren and Claude R. Conder, Survey of Western Palestine. Vol. III, (London, 1884), pp. 393–97; for the original inked map of this area: PEF Archives: WS/CON/555/144). See also: Mitchell, “Modern Wall,” pls 59–61. Mitchell noted in 1901/02 possible inaccuracies in the measurements given by Conder concerning the maximum size of the rock-cut base of the tower beneath the Gobat School building (9 m, instead of 13.7 m) and this was then pointed out in a letter to the PEF by Robert A. S. Macalister on 23 January 1902: PEF Archives/MAC/46. On excavations undertaken in front (i.e. west) of the northern tower (beneath the Gobat School): Robert W. Hamilton “Note on Excavations at Bishop Gobat’s School, 1933,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 68 (1935), 141–42, and more recently: Evgeni D. Kagan, “Jerusalem, Mount Zion, Bishop Gobat School,” Hadashot Arkheologiyot 125 (2013): www.hadashot-esi.org.il. For an overall summary of the property and its history: Brian Schultz, “The Archaeological Heritage of the Jerusalem Protestant Cemetery on Mount Zion,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 136 (2004), 57–74. 157 For the appearance of the masonry at Tower A-B-C: Bliss and Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, pp. 4–6, 1898: pl. I: section A–N. Another more detailed drawing of the same masonry was made by R. A. S. Macalister in 1902, but was never published (PEF Archives: MAC/no accession number; it was included by mistake in the Gezer excavations portfolio) (our Fig. 1.28). We are grateful to Felicity Cobbing at the PEF for permission to publish this drawing. On the collapse of ashlars beneath Tower B: Bliss and Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, p. 252. John Dalton in a letter to the PEF stated that he thought the A-B-C masonry to be of “undoubted Herodian” date, but on this he was wrong: PEF Archives/ Bliss/22/22/2B. For parallels for the masonry: Weksler-Bdolah, “Early Islamic and Medieval City Walls”; Magen Broshi and Shimon Gibson, “Excavations along the Western and Southern Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem,” in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva, reprinted and expanded edition (Jerusalem, 1994), pp. 147–55 (153).

Figure 1.27  Tower “A-B-C” towards the north-east, in excavations conducted by Bliss and Dickie on Mount Zion. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

Figure 1.28  The north-west face of Tower “A-B-C” (Fig. 1.2: 60) in a drawing by R. A. S. Macalister from 1902. No accession number. (Courtesy of Palestine Exploration Fund Archives.)

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Figure 1.29  Schematic map showing the various defensive features on Mount Zion under Fāṭimid (late tenth century) to Ayyȗbid occupation (early thirteenth century). See also the suggested location of the camp of Count Raymond of St. Gilles from June–July 1099. (Drawing: Shimon Gibson.)

which included a number of finely dressed stones of chiseled Crusader style that had evidently been in secondary use, and also the base of a “clustered” column from that period. These reused materials clearly indicate a post-Crusader date for the construction of the tower, and it fits in with what we know about the major refortification effort carried out by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn on Mount Zion in 1191. The toppled masonry probably dates from the time of the destruction of this fortification in 1219/1220. One might reasonably argue that the rock scarp extending between the two towers, which has an overall height of 12.2 meters, originally carried along the top of it the fortification wall of the Late Hellenistic/Early Roman and Byzantine/Early Islamic periods, and that this previous line of wall was subsequently destroyed or dismantled at the time of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s refortification efforts in 1191. However, there is no archaeological evidence whatsoever to support such a notion. Indeed, the discovery of a number of plastered cisterns situated immediately behind the line of this scarp, one of which can clearly be identified as a stepped miqweh (Jewish ritual pool) of Early Roman date, would go against this,



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since this miqweh would have been part of the basement of a building from that period and direct access to it from the direction of the scarp would have been blocked entirely by the fortification wall itself. It seems reasonable therefore to assume that the line of the earlier “Lower” (Late Hellenistic/Early Roman) and “Upper” (Byzantine/Early Islamic) fortification wall ran in front of and parallel to the later scarp, i.e. at a distance of about 24 meters further to the south-west than has previously been supposed. It was perhaps built along the lower rock scarp identified by Bliss and Dickie, extending for a length of some 85 meters between their points H and P, and running toward the curved rock scarp situated at the very lower level of the rock foundations of the Gobat School. For this reason, the remains found by Hamilton in 1933 in front of the Gobat School are very likely to have been connected to the dismantling of the earlier fortification wall which ran through this area, and that it took place at the time of the widespread quarrying activities in the area in the year 1191.These activities also resulted in some terracing and the shifting around of substantial quantities of Early Roman and Byzantine fills, as Hamilton was able to demonstrate (his walls “x” and “z”). Bliss and Dickie also traced a substantial rock-cut ditch (20 meters wide), extending from the south-west tower to the north-east, and running for a distance of 95 meters.158 (Fig. 1.2: 61) It cut through earlier remains including stone quarrying and the edge of a Byzantine bath-house.159 The line of the fortification wall that was traced by Bliss and Dickie on the south-east slope of Mount Zion has a total length of some 198 meters; it had two small towers and was built of squared blocks and other carved stones in secondary use, some of which Bliss identified as of Crusader date.160 (Fig. 1.2: 62–64) The alignment of this Bliss and Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, pp. 9, 10 (pl. I); M.-J. Lagrange, “Chronique de Jérusalem,” Revue Biblique (1894), 88–96. 159 Bliss and Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, p. 49. The Byzantine bath house at D (Fig. 1.2: 61) cannot post-date the ditch, as Bliss seems to suggest. Clearly, the ditch incorporated into it earlier quarried areas on which part of the foundations of this Byzantine building were established. 160 On the discovery of this wall: Bliss and Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, pp. 69–71, with a drawing of a section of the wall on p. 69, and pp. 74–75 for details on the possible chronology of the wall. It had a thickness of 2.74–3.96 meters and in one place was preserved to a height of 10 meters. The wall was mostly built out of rubble with mortar and with foundations on bedrock. Bliss describes this wall as having been built in patchwork fashion incorporating many stones in secondary use (our Fig. 1.30), some exhibiting “Crusader furrowed dressing.” At one location a fragment of an architectural fragment was found with moldings of Frankish appearance (see drawing on p. 71). The post-Byzantine date of this wall was evident at two locations: at point O’ it was seen to cut through a Byzantine structure and at R’ its foundations were built on top of a Byzantine street. The wall was traced from R’ toward the east, where it extended through the previously mentioned Byzantine street, and it was here, in an excavation (No. 7) made by the Augustinian Brethren, that a deep depression was exposed running in front of the wall, from west to east, and it may be evidence of a sunken ditch. These features are also visible in an unpublished drawing by Conrad Schick: PEF Archives/Schick/75/4, and see the report that went with this drawing which was published: “Letters from Baurath von Schick. II. 158

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Figure 1.30  Tower masonry at I’-J’ (Fig. 1.2: 62) in Bliss and Dickie’s excavations on Mount Zion. Drawing: Frederick Jones Bliss and Archibald Campbell Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, 1894–1897 (London, 1898), 69. (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

wall, which did not follow the natural topographical curve around the southeast slope, suggests it was built primarily to enclose pre-existing areas of the summit containing buildings and properties (Fig. 1.29). There were additional signs of a ditch, with parts of it seen running through a rock-cut miqweh (ritual pool) from the early Roman period in front of one of the towers (Fig. 1.2: 62). Schick was able to detect additional traces of a sunken ditch running in front of the curtain wall immediately east of the eastern tower in the wall (Fig. 1.2: 64), which suggests the ditch may have had a total length of about 380 meters. The wall eventually had a bend northwards and from there ran toward Burj Kibrit, but excavations conducted there by Margovski and later Ben-Dov did not reveal the extension of this wall.161 (Fig. 1.2: 49) Vincent originally suggested that Bliss Excavations by the Augustinian Brethren on Mount Zion,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 26/1 (1894), 13–21 (pp. 15–19). For a map from 1912 showing the eastern tower in the wall, as well as a section of the wall after it made a bend to the northeast toward Burj Kibrit (Fig. 1.2: 65), see: Vincent and Abel, Jérusalem Nouvelle, Vol. II, Fasc. III, plate 50: “mur de Saladin.” The shape of the two towers in this wall are depicted with some differences in August Kümmel’s map “Karte der Materialien zur Topographie des Alten Jerusalem,” scale: 1:2,500 (Leipzig, 1904). 161 Wightman does not think the wall extended as far as Burj Kibrit, but instead ran to a point further to the west: Walls, p. 274, fig. 85. He is followed in this by Hawari, Ayyȗbid Jerusalem, p. 23, fig. 3. However, the fourteenth-century map of Marino Sanuto (Liber Secretorium Fidelium Crucis, codex 27376, British Museum, London) shows the wall encompassing Mount Zion from west to south, and then from there extending northeast toward a sharp angular corner which must be Burj Kibrit, before then descending toward Dung Gate: Reinhold Röhricht, “Marino Sanudo sen. als Kartograph Palästinas,”



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Figure 1.31  A fourteenth-century map of Jerusalem by Marino Sanudo. Drawing: Reinhold Röhricht, “Marino Sanudo sen. als Kartograph Palästinas,” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 21 (1898). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

and Dickie’s wall might be Crusader in date, but the identification of this wall as the work of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn now seems certain.162 It corroborates Wilbrand of Oldenburg’s observation made at the time of his visit (1212) that Mount Zion Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 21 (1898), fig. 4; Dan Bahat, “Sanuto’s Map and the Walls of Jerusalem in the Thirteenth Century,” Eretz-Israel (Avi-Yonah Vol.) 19 (1987), 295–98 (Hebrew); Levy, “Medieval Maps,” pp. 487–93. Another sketch map (Plut. LXXVI 56, fol. 97, Laurenziana Library, Florence), also dating to the fourteenth century, depicts Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s wall surrounding Mount Zion from the west as far as Dung Gate in the east (Porta Aquaram): Röhricht, “Marino Sanudo,” fig. 8; Levy, “Medieval Maps,” 483–86. In regard to Wightman’s suggestion that Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s wall extended to a spot west of Burj Kibrit, one may note that in recent excavations at that very same spot the foundations of a small structure were unearthed, however it dates to no earlier than the late Ottoman period: Alexander Wiegmann, “Mount Zion: Final Report,” Excavations and Surveys in Israel 128 (2016), at www.hadashot-esi.org.il/Report_Detail_Eng.aspx?id=25008&mag_id=124, accessed 29 November 2022. Incidentally, the 1933 photograph of a small building next to the southern city wall that is reproduced in Wiegmann’s report (fig. 11), has to be situated to the east and not to the west of Burj Kibrit. 162 H. Vincent, “Les Fouilles de Jérusalem d’après M. Bliss,” Revue Biblique 5 (1896): map on p. 247: wall between L and M.

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by then had been enclosed within the walls of the city.163 This is the wall that is depicted surrounding Mount Zion in a map from 1321 by the Italian traveler Marino Sanuto (Fig. 1.31). The city wall was probably in ruins by that time but traces of it were undoubtedly still discernible.164 Conclusions One would think that the Crusader forces when attacking Jerusalem in July 1099 would certainly have used as their model the successful manner in which al-Afḍal and the Fāṭimid army laid siege to the city just one year earlier (1098), but they did not. The contrast is quite striking. Al-Afḍal came well-prepared with food and provisions, leaving a military line of communications open between his army and the coast, and possessing sufficient timber to allow him to construct the best siege machines he needed to facilitate a successful assault on the city. He eventually breached the northern city wall after employing the full power of his stone-throwing artillery. On receiving the surrender of the city, al-Afḍal allowed the two Seljȗk governors of the Artuqid family to leave unharmed, and then he himself departed to Cairo, leaving behind him a garrison with a new governor, Iftikhār al-Dawla, in command to represent his interests. The reason why al-Afḍal had marched on Jerusalem in 1098 is uncertain, and it has been much debated.165 Quite reasonably it was a move that allowed the Fāṭimid Caliphate to take quick advantage of the general military weakness of the Seljȗk Turcoman in the general region at that time. The situation was further exacerbated by the Shī‘a and Sunnī religious divide that existed between them, which meant the possibility of Fāṭimids and Seljȗks joining forces to defeat the Crusaders was highly unlikely.166 The notion that there may have been some pre-existing alliance between the Fāṭimids and Crusaders, before the Crusaders marched on Jerusalem, as is suggested in the writings of Ibn al-Athīr, also seems unlikely.167 Clearly, al-Afḍal must have been aware of Crusader aspirations to capture Jerusalem and of the theological ideology that Wilbrand of Oldenburg (2.6): Pringle, Pilgrimage, pp. 87–88. “Sanuto’s Map.” An extended furrowed depression around Mount Zion is visible in an engraving from 1586 made during Zuallardo’s travels and it more or less represents the general course of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s wall. This was already pointed out by Claude R. Conder, “Zuallardo’s Travels,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 34/1 (1902), 97–105 (p. 100). It is worthwhile adding that the remains of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s wall was also clearly visible in 1695 and it is depicted in an engraving made by the Flemish artist Jan Peeters, with the wall labeled as representing the ruined city wall of King David (private collection) (our Fig. 1.32). 165 For reviews of this question: Hillenbrand, The Crusades, pp. 44–47; Maher Y. Abu-Munshar, “Fāṭimids, Crusaders and the Fall of Islamic Jerusalem: Foes or Allies?,” Al-Masaq 22 (2010), 45–56. 166 On Muslim religious identity at that time: Gertz, “Fatimids Fighting Over Jerusalem,” pp. 115–20. 167 Ibn al-Athīr (IX.13-14). 163

164 Bahat,

Figure 1.32  A view of Jerusalem from Mount Zion towards the east from 1695 by the Flemish artist Jan Peeters. This engraving shows the complex of buildings on the summit of Mount Zion (F), the House of Caiaphas (A: Fig. 1.2: 45), Zion Gate (D: Fig. 1.2: 44), the Hinnom Valley and Akeldama (I) on the right, and a ruined fortification labeled as the ruined wall of King David in the foreground (G: Fig. 1.2: 59-60). (Courtesy of Gibson Picture Archive.)

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was driving them, especially since his envoys had met up with their leaders while they were still flush with their victory at Antioch.168 Perhaps he divined that a move toward Jerusalem after a lengthy siege at Antioch would be far too risky and they would simply give up. Perhaps, he expected the Crusader leaders to bow to regional geo-political reality and parlay with him through envoys in order to obtain free access to the holy sites at Jerusalem for all future Christian pilgrimages. Nevertheless, al-Afḍal must have had some assurances or at least confidence in his understanding of the situation; otherwise he would not have returned to Egypt immediately after conquering Jerusalem. It would turn out to be a serious misjudgment. As opposed to the efficiency behind the Fāṭimid capture of Jerusalem in 1098, the Crusader siege of Jerusalem a year later seemed to be doomed to failure from the very outset. The Crusader forces were seemingly lacking in coordinated leadership, and discord and rivalries thrived among them. On arriving in Jerusalem, the knights were obviously ill-prepared for the siege, with the main force of foot soldiers tired, hungry and thirsty. They had no assured line of communications with the coast behind them, and they were ill-equipped and lacking in essential provisions. They also had next to nothing in terms of the quantity of timber needed for making scaling ladders and siege equipment. In military terms, it did not seem possible they could achieve success based only on bravado, determination, and theological expectation. They also greatly feared that al-Afḍal and his Fāṭimid army might suddenly turn up to relieve the city, meaning a prolonged siege of the city was simply out of the question. The ongoing rivalry between the besieging camps, north and south of the city, meant there was a lack of clarity on the coordination that would be needed once the city had been taken. This led to confusion on 15 July when the attacking fighters did finally gain access to the city wall on the north and then in the south as well. The net result was a large body of disparate soldiers entering the city, who were unruly and out of control. It is no wonder that this led to a deadly rampage in the streets of Jerusalem with concomitant killing and looting.169 There can be no doubt that the defensive ditches and built outworks that were situated in front of the main walls of the city, to its north and south, were highly 168 WT,

IV.24, 267–68. On the theological imperative driving the Crusaders to want to liberate and purify Jerusalem: Sylvia Schein, Gateway to the Heavenly City: Crusader Jerusalem and the Catholic West (1099–1187) (Abingdon, 2016), pp. 9–20. 169 On the character of the feast that was subsequently celebrated to remember the 1099 capture of Jerusalem: Jaroslav Folda, “Commemorating the Fall of Jerusalem. Remembering the First Crusade in Text. Liturgy, and Image,” in Remembering the Crusades, ed. Nicholas Paul and Suzanne Yeager (Baltimore, MD, 2012), pp. 125–45; John, “The ‘Feast of the Liberation of Jerusalem’,” p. 416. The ritual procession that was connected to this feast (enacted from as early as 1105) was associated with three places in Jerusalem: the spot where a breach was made by Godfrey’s forces in the wall on the north-east side of the city, the Templum Domini, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is perhaps not coincidental that the processional route of the Via Dolorosa was eventually enacted in this part of the city as well.



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instrumental in slowing down the success of the Crusader besiegers in July 1099. The Fāṭimid defenders appear to have had absolute confidence in their multiple defenses and they were prepared to sit it out until the anticipated arrival of the Egyptian army, even if the actual inhabitants of the city may have been feeling despondent. Notwithstanding the desperation of the first attack made on 13 June 1099, the Crusaders continued to make attempts to gain access to the northern and southern walls over the next four weeks, but the multiple protective devices employed by the Fāṭimid defenders to protect the city wall from the external bombardment of stones was quite efficient and time began running out. The Fāṭimid defenders also raised the height of the city walls at specific locations with wooden boards, and reinforcements were made along the inner face of the walls from inside the city, with revetments of debris and timber. Undoubtedly, without the successful filling in of the ditches at cardinal spots where the assaults were planned, combined with the effectiveness of the height of the wooden siege towers and the use of a battering ram, it is unlikely the Crusader siege of Jerusalem would have been successful. Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn obviously made a study of the Crusaders’ siege of Jerusalem of 1099, before he began his own siege of the city in 1187. He followed in their footsteps by first concentrating his assault at one location on the north-west side of the city, and then by shifting his attack to the north-east. However, unlike the siege of his predecessors, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s capture of the city was fairly seamless, especially since the Christian defenders eventually offered to negotiate and then opened up the city gates. The sources indicate that his original assault on the walls was ferocious and that his siege tactics included a much stronger use of more sophisticated heavy artillery, even though most of the destruction was still made using traditional methods of mining and frontal assaults on the walls.170 Once he was in possession of the city, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn realized that the fortifications of Jerusalem had been seriously neglected and needed his attention. It transpired that during eighty-eight years of rule the Crusaders had spent much more attention strengthening the Citadel and some of the gates than in improving the rest of the city fortifications. Hence, Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn spent six months substantially widening and deepening the northern moat, with the intention of making it even more difficult for sappers to gain access to the foundations of the main wall should the city come under attack again. He undertook his refortification effort in 1191/92 and many of the weakened parts of the defense system were improved, particularly on the north-west. He also built a new fortification wall to surround the summit of Mount Zion, believing this part of the city to be particularly vulnerable to attack from outside forces, and it was also provided with a rock-cut ditch in front of it. For the first time since the end of the tenth century, the Church of St. Mary (Hagia Sion) and other buildings on the summit of Mount Zion were included within the fortified city limits.171 It appears that 170 Fulton,

“Development of Prefabricated Artillery,” 2015. On changes in Muslim siege tactics that had already begun in the 1160s: Ellenblum, Crusader Castles, pp. 237–39. 171 The reason why the Crusaders decided not to include the summit of Mount Zion within the

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the previous southern line of fortifications on Mount Zion, the one used under Fāṭimid and Crusader rule, was not actually dismantled but continued to serve as an “inner” wall, at the same time as Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s new wall which thereafter served as the “outer” wall. A major re-fortification effort on the towers and gates of the southern “inner” fortification wall on Mount Zion was eventually undertaken by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s nephew, al-Malik al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā, viceroy over Syria and Palestine, and these building operations took place from 1202, with additional fortification work going on around the entire city and in the area of the Ḥaram aš-Šarīf.172 We surmise that the two fortification walls of Mount Zion were both destroyed at the same time in 1219 when al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā understood that the Franks had strong designs toward repossessing the city, following the capture of Damietta in Egypt, and thus he began dismantling the very same walls and towers that he had previously spent time building. This “scorched earth” policy adopted by al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā to pull down the defenses of the city caused an enormous outcry among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It would appear that administrative buildings of the city were also affected in much the same way, and quite a few of its inhabitants decided to abandon their dwellings and flee.173 Only the Temple Mount walls and Citadel were spared. According to Abȗ Shāma, some of the inhabitants left the city while others took up refuge in the Ḥaram aš-Šarīf.174 A Muslim source from the early thirteenth century, Sibṭ Ibn al-Jawzī , has al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā justifying himself in a letter, as follows: “If they [the Franks] were to take it [Jerusalem], they would city wall after their capture of Jerusalem in 1099 is unknown. Perhaps one explanation is the drop in the number of the city inhabitants, with many of the Crusader fighters returning to their homelands, making an extension of the wall to include Mount Zion unnecessary. Perhaps the inclination not to include Mount Zion within the city fortifications was the direct result of the antagonism that subsequently transpired between Godfrey and Raymond St. Gilles, the latter “adopting” the ruins of the Church of St. Mary and taking on its religious symbolism at the time of the siege. It is also possible that the boundary wall which was built to surround the complex of ecclesiastical buildings on the summit of the hill, which undoubtedly existed in the twelfth century (one section of this wall was uncovered in Broshi’s excavations at St. Saviour`s near Zion Gate [Fig. 1.2: 45]), was deemed by the Franks to be a sufficient measure of protection. At the time of Theoderic’s visit (c. 1172) the church was clearly situated outside the city wall: Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrimage, p. 277. 172 It is of course conceivable that this fortification activity had already begun at the time of al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā’s father al-Malik al-ʿĀdil, but inscriptional evidence does not support this: R. Stephen Humphreys, From Salah-a-Din to the Mongols, The Ayyȗbids of Damascus, 1193–1260 (New York, 1977), p. 151. Al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā initiated his fortification effort in 1202 and completed most of his work by 1216. Bahat and Hawari believe that al-Mu‘aẓẓam’s fortification efforts brought about the eventual abandonment of Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s wall around Mount Zion: Bahat, “Sanuto’s Map,” p. 296; Hawari, Ayyȗbid Jerusalem, p. 25. However, there is no evidence to support this. Indeed, we believe both walls co-existed until 1219. 173 Donald P. Little, “Jerusalem under the Ayyȗbids and Mamlȗks, 1187–1516 AD,” in Jerusalem in History, ed. K. J. Asali (Essex, 1989), pp. 177–99 (at p. 183). 174 Ghosheh, “Walls and Gates,” p. 118.



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kill those in it and rule over Damascus and the countries of Islam. Necessity demands its destruction.”175 It appears al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā was on hand to oversee the work himself. However, the work continued until 1220, and whatever was left to pull down was eventually completed by his brother al-Kāmil in May 1227. Piles of collapsed ashlars deriving from the 1219 (AH 616) dismantling of the towers and walls have been found together with inscriptions of al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā along the western city wall south of the Citadel (dated to October 1202/ Oct 1203; 599 AH) (Fig. 1.2: 39) and along the southern “inner” wall in front of the Gate of Sion (Bāb Ṣihyȗn) (dated June 1212–May 1213; 609 AH).176 (Fig. 1.2: 46) Two inscriptions are also known from the Citadel: one from November 1203 (600 AH) which comes from Johns’s 1935 excavations, and another from May 1213–May 1214 (610 AH) which was published by van Berchem.177 Altogether, a substantial number of inscriptions of al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā are known from Jerusalem.178 Additional stone collapses that are probably also to be attributed to the dismantling event have come to light in excavations along the outer wall to the north-west of Jaffa Gate (Reich and Shukron) (Fig. 1.2: 5–6), along the northern outer wall (Schick) (Fig. 1.2: 18), near the Cave of Zedekiah (Hamilton; Mazor) (Fig. 1.2: 22–23), on the west side of a fortified tower next to the Church of St. Anne (Mauss) (Fig. 1.2: 33), and outside the wall to the north of Lion’s Gate (Re’em: personal communication) (Fig. 1.2: 34). The pile of stones found inside the barbican of the Gate of St. Stephen (Damascus Gate), Wightman has suggested, is the result of an attack made there by al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā’s son, al-Malik al-Nāṣīr Dāwȗd in December 1239, but the topple could equally date back to the demolishing activities from twenty years earlier.179 Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s wall around Mount Zion was also pulled down, and large piles of stones were found at the foot of Tower A-B-C.180 (Fig. 1.2: 60) The Citadel appears to have survived this initial destruction, though it was damaged during the revolt of 1227. Conceivably, it was eventually strengthened by Frederick II after the city was captured by treaty in 1229, and some modifications may have been made

Hillenbrand, The Crusades, p. 215. and Gibson, “Excavations along the Western and Southern Walls,” pp. 154–55; Gibson et al., “New Excavations,” pp. 312–13. 177 Max van Berchem, Matériaux pour un Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum, II: Syrie du sud, Jérusalem “ville” (Cairo, 1922), pp. 131–41: No. 43, fig. 17:M; Archibald G. Walls and Amal Abul-Hajj, Arabic Inscriptions in Jerusalem: A Handlist and Maps (London, 1980), pp. 8–10, 27; Hawari, Ayyȗbid Jerusalem, Appendix IV, p. 194. An additional inscription has been uncovered built into the foundations of the west wall of the Citadel (dated to 1212) but it remains unpublished (Amit Re’em, pers. comm.). 178 Moshe Sharon, “The Ayyūbid Walls of Jerusalem: A New Inscription from the Time of al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā,” in Studies in Memory of Gaston Wiet, ed. M. Rosen-Ayalon (Jerusalem, 1977), pp. 179–93, plates XI–XIV; Magen Broshi, “Al-Malek al-Mu‘aẓẓam ‘Ῑsā: Evidence in a New Inscription,” Eretz-Israel 19 (1987), pp. 299–302 (Hebrew). 179 Wightman, Walls, p. 286; cf. Geva and Bahat, “Architectural and Chronological Aspects,” p. 234. 180 Bliss and Dickie, Excavations at Jerusalem, pp. 6, 8. 175

176 Broshi

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to St. Stephen’s Gate as well.181 Roger of Wendover’s chronicle, from c. 1230, seems to indicate that attempts were made in 1229 “at great expense and trouble, to rebuild the city, to surround the walls with trenches, and to repair the ramparts of the towers.”182 However, Frederick’s intention “to rebuild the city of Jerusalem in as good a state as it has ever been,” was merely a declaration and not necessarily a statement of accomplishment, and thus it seems to contradict Wendover’s account.183 Whether re-fortification was done after the truce with the Ayyȗbids had expired in 1239/1240, is also not known.184 It is assumed that parts of the Citadel were destroyed by al-Nāṣīr Dāwȗd in 1239/1240 and then by the Kharezmian Turks in August 1244. Apparently, there had been a plan by al-Ṣāliḥ Najm ad-Dīn Ayyȗb to rebuild the walls in 1247 but this did not transpire; Wightman suggested that Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn’s wall on Mount Zion was indeed rebuilt at that time.185 The city walls were in ruins in the 1480s based on the accounts of Jewish travelers.186 The northern city wall of Jerusalem was rebuilt by the Ottomans in 1537–38 and the southern wall in 1540–41.187

Geva and Bahat, “Architectural and Chronological Aspects,” p. 235 (Phase III). Bird, Edward Peters, and James M. Powell, ed., Crusade and Christendom: Annotated Documents in Translation from Innocent III to the Fall of Acre, 1187–1291 (Philadelphia, PA, 2013), p. 247. 183 Bird et al., Crusade and Christendom, pp. 252–53. 184 Various suggestions on possible Mamluk defense walls have been proposed: Ghosheh, “Walls and Gates.” 185 Ghosheh, “Walls and Gates,” p. 119; Wightman, Walls, p. 286. 186 Elkan Nathan Adler, ed., Jewish Travelers in the Middle Ages: 19 Firsthand Accounts (New York, 1987), pp. 189, 234. For an interesting drawing showing what had survived of these medieval fortifications on the eve of the Ottoman refortification of the city in the early sixteenth century, see Francesco Suriano’s Treatise of the Holy Land, ed. Theophilus Bellorini and Eugene Hoade (Jerusalem, 1949), fig. 4. 187 Walls and Abul-Hajj, Arabic Inscriptions in Jerusalem. 181

182 Jessalynn

2 The Impact of Victory and Defeat on the Military Orders’ Public Image1 Nicholas Morton

Throughout their existence the military orders were acutely dependent on maintaining a positive public image in Western Christendom. Popular military orders could expect to receive substantial donations and enthusiastic support from their benefactors, sufficient to pursue their military and medical vocations. Less popular orders might find themselves at the mercy of their detractors, whose censure could impact their revenues, their recruitment or even their existence. This article examines how news of battles fought in the borderlands could impact the military orders’ public image away from the frontier, in Christendom’s core countries. It demonstrates that news of victory or defeat could have either a positive or negative impact on an order’s reputation. It all depended on how this news was offered and how it was received. The monastic military orders were among of the most distinctive manifestations of the crusading movement. The earliest were the Knights Templar. They began as a small group of warriors protecting pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem in the years after the First Crusade (1095–99). Over time they grew to become both a vast international operation and a formal institution of the Church. Later years saw the establishment of many other military orders, following their example. These included the Hospitallers, a medical and charitable institution formed prior to the Templars, but which acquired a military role in the 1120s. Another was the Teutonic Knights, a medical and later military order established in 1190 during the Third Crusade. These would become the three largest military orders and they all rose to prominence at least in part through their dedication to the defense or reconquest of Jerusalem. Elsewhere, from the twelfth century onwards, many other military orders emerged to fight Christendom’s opponents, especially in Iberia and the Baltic. In their origins, most military orders, including the Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, were small operations. They conducted their vocations with the assistance of local patrons or visiting pilgrims who expressed their support by offering buildings, income, or land to facilitate their activities. In some 1

I would like to thank Professor Helen Nicholson and Professor Jochen Burgtorf for reading and offering their thoughts on an early draft of this article.

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cases, the smaller military orders never grew much beyond this simple model. Conversely, some military orders expanded to become massive international institutions and, in each case, they brought about this growth by capturing the attention of patrons in Western Christendom. These benefactors then provided the resources necessary for the orders to establish vast international logistics networks designed to channel recruits, money and materials to their frontline establishments. The orders’ networks also served as communications structures by which they could disseminate reports of their labors among current and future patrons for the purpose of entrenching their support and winning further benefactions. As the orders’ infrastructure grew, they relied increasingly on revenues gathered from their existing properties and assets, leaning less heavily on donation revenue, but even so they still required their benefactors’ protection and goodwill to continue their work. In this way, throughout its lifecycle, an order’s ability to conduct its vocation depended heavily on maintaining a positive public image in Western Christendom. This article will explore how the military orders’ performance in battle on Christendom’s frontiers impacted their reputations and therefore their donations in the West.2 This is a complex issue and there is no easy correlation between military success/failure and the development of a positive or negative public image. For example, in 1129 Templar master Hugh of Payns returned to the Crusader States after a long recruitment tour across Western Christendom, spent gathering crusading forces for a campaign against the Syrian city of Damascus. The resulting expedition ended with an ignominious military failure and yet, during the years that followed, the Templar order continued to grow with astonishing speed across Western Europe and the Latin East, driven in large part by the donations from benefactors.3 Seemingly this defeat had done no serious harm to the order’s public image or, by extension, to its patrons’ willingness to offer support.4 A similar pattern can be found many years later following the kingdom of Jerusalem’s defeat at the battle of Hattin (1187). On this occasion, despite the fact that the Templars and Hospitallers played a prominent role both in the battle itself, and also in the despatch of reports describing the defeat to correspondents in Western Christendom, this major reverse (as well as the fall of Jerusalem soon afterwards) seems to have caused an influx of new recruits and donations in Western Europe. By extension many knights attached themselves to the military orders during the Third Crusade, launched by the papacy

2 3

4

As such this work builds on Helen Nicholson’s discussion in Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights: Images of the Military Orders, 1128–1291 (Leicester, 1993), pp. 105–07. For discussion, see: J. Phillips, “Hugh of Payns and the 1129 Damascus Crusade,” in The Military Orders: Fighting for the Faith and Caring for the Sick (Aldershot, 1994), pp. 141–47 (esp. p. 147). Judith Bronstein provides a great deal of discussion on the military orders’ practical recovery from battlefield defeats, including the despatch of resources and reinforcements, see: Judith Bronstein, The Hospitallers and the Holy Land: Financing the Latin East, 1187–1274 (Woodbridge, 2005), passim.



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as a reaction to these defeats.5 Again, this major defeat did little harm to their public image.6 From these two cursory examples it is already clear that there was no easy correlation between a military order’s performance on the battlefield and the level of support it received from its patrons in Western Europe’s core regions. Defeat did not necessarily mean disillusionment and, as will be shown, victory did not necessarily lead to institutional growth. Methodologically, examining the causal link between a military order’s battlefield performance and the development of its reputation among its patrons raises an important challenge. A military order’s public image in the West did not depend solely on reports of its warriors’ prowess along Christendom’s distant frontiers; rather, it was the amalgamation of many factors.7 For example, the military orders’ regional commanders in Western Christendom understood that their reputations relied at least in part on how they conducted their local charitable and medical vocations and also how they managed their relationships with powerful neighbors and regional magnates. Their landholding strategies could also affect their popularity and actions such as the aggressive acquisition of land or the establishment of new roads or markets could both win and alienate supporters.8 Moreover, contemporary society expected the orders’ members (as professed religious) to live out their faith in a manner that reflected the teaching of Christ, while perceptions of their sanctity (and their ability to act as interces-

5

6 7

8

See, for example: Jochen Schenk, Templar Families: Landowning Families and the Order of the Temple in France (Cambridge, 2012), pp. 122–23, 217, 219, 226–27. For an example of increased aid to the Hospitallers from the papacy, see: Bronstein, The Hospitallers and the Holy Land, pp. 103–05. For examples of letters written by Templars to the West at this time, see: Roger of Howden, Chronica Magistri Rogeri de Houedene, ed. William Stubbs, 4 vols. (London, 1868–71), 2:324–25, 346–347. Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic, p. 10. Although several historians have stressed the centrality of the orders’ military vocation to their public images, for example: Michael Gervers, ed., The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England: Part 2, Prima Camera, Essex, Records of Social and Economic History: New Series XXIII (Oxford, 1996), p. c; Dominic Selwood, Knights of the Cloister: Templars and Hospitallers in Central-Southern Occitania 1100–1300 (Woodbridge, 1999), p. 1. Nevertheless, as MacLellan shows, it is notable that of the 160 donations made to the Hospitallers in the English Langue from 1291 to 1400 only six make reference to crusading activities: Rory MacLellan, Donations to the Knights Hospitaller in Britain and Ireland, 1291–1400 (London, 2021), p. 28. For further discussion on this topic, see: John Walker, “Alms for the Holy Land: the English Templars and Their Patrons,” in The Medieval Military Revolution: State, Society and Military Change in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Andrew Ayton and J. L. Price (London, 1998), p. 63–80. Nicholson’s discussion on the factors influencing donations is also relevant here: Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, p. 60. See, for example, the Templars’ troubled relationship with the counts of Champagne: Theodore Evergates, The Aristocracy of the County of Champagne, 1100–1300 (Philadelphia, PA, 2008), p. 71; Damien Carraz, L’ordre du Temple dans la basse vallée du Rhône (1124–1312): Ordres militaires, croisades et sociétés méridionales (Lyon, 2020), pp. 467–75.

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sors for their patrons) correlated closely with the support they received.9 The orders’ efforts to protect pilgrims/fellow Christians and their involvement with Church reform also had an impact and so too did their ability to project their spiritual association with the sacred sites of the Holy Land.10 By extension, macro shifts in Christendom’s broader agenda might affect a military order’s popularity. Factors here could include: the changing popularity of crusading (especially crusading ventures where the military orders featured prominently), the emergence of other “competing” religious orders and/or movements (such as the rise of the friars), which could turn Christendom’s attention in other directions,11 or even the wider agricultural or economic fluctuations that might impact a donor’s ability to make benefactions. To these factors could be added the fundamental willingness of local landowners to permit the growth of monastic institutions within their territories. One has only to think of the curbs introduced by monarchs in the later thirteenth century, such as mortmain legislation in the kingdom of England, that were specifically intended to prevent the alienation of territory to religious houses, including the military orders.12 The intention here is not to list exhaustively every factor that could impact an order’s image, but rather to make the point that a military order’s image was a dynamic and complex entity, with reports of its military actions representing just one element among many.13 Separating the impact of news received from distant frontiers from the influence of other factors is often impossible, just as the limited nature of the surviving evidence often makes it extremely difficult to gauge the broad consensus of public opinion regarding a military order, either in Western Christendom as a whole or in any of its sub-regions. Consequently, 9 10

11

12 13

For discussion, see: MacLellan, Donations to the Knights Hospitaller, pp. 24–51. For discussion, see: Schenk, Templar Families, pp. 75–125, 252; Carraz, L’ordre du Temple dans la basse vallée du Rhône, pp. 136–64; Sebastián Salvadó, “Icons, Crosses and the Liturgical Objects of Templar Chapels in the Crown of Aragon,” The Debate on the Trial of the Templars (1307–1314), ed. Jochen Burgtorf, Paul Crawford and Helen Nicholson (Farnham, 2010), pp. 183–97; Karl Borchardt, “Templar Charters and Charters for the Templars: Self-promotion Versus the Image of the Order,” in The Templars and Their Sources, ed. Karl Borchardt, Karoline Döring, Philippe Josserand and Helen Nicholson, Crusades–Subsidia X (London, 2017), pp. 59–61; Klaus van Eickels, “Knightly Hospitallers or Crusading Knights? Decisive Factors for the Spread of the Teutonic Knights in the Rhineland and the Low Countries, 1216–1300,” in The Military Orders: Welfare and Warfare, ed. Helen Nicholson (Aldershot, 1998), pp. 75–80. For a dramatic example showing how the advent of new religious orders could realign patterns of donation, see Epstein’s study on Genoese charitable giving which shows that between 1227 and 1253 donations to the friars suddenly rose from “virtually nothing” to around a quarter of all donations. Having said this, donations to the crusades remained broadly similar to earlier periods in Genoa and donations to the Hospitallers grew in monetary value but decreased slightly as a percentage of total giving: Steven Epstein, Genoa & the Genoese, 958–1528 (Chapel Hill, NC, 1996), pp. 117, 129–32. MacLellan, Donations to the Knights Hospitaller, p. 25. For Southern France, see: Carraz, L’ordre du Temple dans la basse vallée du Rhône, pp. 467–72. See, for example: Carraz, L’ordre du Temple dans la basse vallée du Rhône, pp. 168, 462.



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this article will tread carefully when assessing the impact of military news from the east, recognizing that when such tidings reached their intended audiences, they immediately joined a pre-existing set of conversations, that in turn were shaped by many variables.14 Victory To begin, it must be stated that battlefield victories were almost always received in Western Christendom as prima facie “good” news and the military orders recognized that such success could help to elicit further support.15 This can be seen following the kingdom of Jerusalem’s victory over Saladin’s forces at the battle of Montgisard near Ramla in 1177. In the wake of this battle, a Hospitaller named Raymond wrote a carefully crafted letter back to Western Christendom specifically requesting alms.16 He stressed his order’s substantial military and medical contributions to the battle whilst reporting the death or capture of 45,000 enemy soldiers (an obvious and possibly deliberate exaggeration).17 Perhaps the most striking element of this appeal was its messenger. The chosen envoy was a Hospitaller who had been horribly wounded in the battle. It is hard to think of a more potent way to remind potential patrons in Western Christendom of the sacrifices and burdens carried by the Hospitallers in the Levant than to despatch an injured warrior as their messenger – fresh from the fight. Clearly the order recognized the value of victories as tools for eliciting patronage and were skilled at presenting such achievements to the greatest possible effect. An order’s public image could similarly benefit from substantial territorial advances achieved along Christendom’s frontiers, even in scenarios when the order’s forces were only loosely affiliated with that success. For example, Michael Gervers has observed that of the 190 land grants made during the thirteenth century to the English Hospitallers in Essex (contained in the “Great Cartulary” of 1442’s secunda camera), 80 percent took place between 1220 and 14

15 16

17

For discussion, see: Charles Connell, “The Fall of Acre in 1291 in the Court of Medieval Public Opinion,” in Acre and its Falls: Studies in the History of a Crusader City, ed. John France (Leiden, 2018), pp. 133, 140–42; Sylvia Schein, Fideles Crucis: The Papacy, the West, and the Recovery of the Holy Land, 1274–1314 (Oxford, 1998), p. 11. See, for example: J. Michael Jefferson, The Templar Estates in Lincolnshire, 1185–1565: Agriculture and Economy (Woodbridge, 2020), p. 132. For discussion on the military orders’ letters of appeal to correspondents in Western Christendom, see: Jonathan Riley-Smith, “The Military Orders and the East, 1149–1291,” in Knighthoods of Christ: Essays on the History of the Crusades and the Knights Templar, Presented to Malcolm Barber, ed. Norman Housley (Abingdon, 2007), pp. 137–49. For the Latin edition of this letter, see: R. Röhricht, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Kreuzzüge, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1878), 2:127–28. For the English translation, see: Letters from the East: Crusaders, Pilgrims and Settlers in the 12th–13th Centuries, trans. Malcolm Barber and Keith Bate (Farnham, 2013), pp. 72–73. Other historians have noticed that the military orders could exaggerate the situation in the Crusader States in their letters of appeal, often following defeats or when facing impending disaster. See, for example: Bronstein, The Hospitallers and the Holy Land, p. 33.

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1260, with one-third of these made during the 1230s. Gervers’ explanation for this sudden spike in donations is rooted partially in local factors but also in the return of Jerusalem to Christian control, achieved in 1229 by Emperor Frederick II; his contention is that the return of the holy city contributed to an uptick in donations to the order.18 The city then remained in Christian hands until 1244 (although it was briefly lost in 1239). Significantly, however, while the Hospitallers participated in the emperor’s crusade, they only played a minor role in the events of the campaign. Indeed, Emperor Frederick II actually deemed them to have so obstructed his ambitions during the expedition that he confiscated their lands on Sicily immediately after his return to the West.19 It is difficult to confidently link cause and effect in such cases, but if Gervers is correct that there was indeed a causal link between the return of Jerusalem in 1229 and a spike in donations to the English Hospitallers in the 1230s then it would demonstrate how the order could benefit from a successful crusade even when the order’s own participation had been limited (or even counter-productive). On other occasions victories could be useful in buttressing an order’s political position in Western Christendom. This can be seen at the council of Vienne in 1312 (the event which brought about the suppression of the Templars). At this time, the Hospitallers’ position was extremely fragile across Western Christendom – like that of the other major military orders. They also needed to maintain sufficient goodwill to persuade Christendom’s crowned heads to endorse the smooth transfer of the Templars’ former lands into their possession. It was fortunate then that, as Carr observes, on 22 April 1312 (only a few weeks after the Templars’ suppression) the Hospitallers were able to inform the council that their warships had just scored a major naval victory against the fleet of the beylik of Menteshe. This victory served not merely to demonstrate the order’s maritime expertise, but it also vindicated to their western patrons the renewal of their military vocation following the fall of Acre, expressed through their conquest of Rhodes and the conduct of naval warfare in the Aegean. Reflecting on the very timely arrival of this piece of news at the Council of Vienne, it is natural to question whether the messenger’s sudden appearance was the result of chance or design. On this point it is difficult to be sure but, in either case, it was very much to the order’s advantage that its military credentials received such a timely burnish.20 Further attempts by the Hospitallers to win applause for their military victories can also be seen the following year when they used news of their conquests on the Anatolian mainland to appeal for settlers from Western Christendom.21 18

19 20 21

Michael Gervers, The Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England: Secunda Camera Essex, Records of Social and Economic History VI (Oxford, 1982), pp. xlv–xlvi. Malcolm Barber, The New Knighthood: A History of the Order of the Temple (Cambridge, 1994), p. 135. Mike Carr, Merchant Crusaders in the Aegean, 1291–1352 (Woodbridge, 2015), p. 46. Mike Carr, “Early Contacts between Menteşe and the Latins in the Aegean: Alliances with the Genoese and Conflicts with the Hospitallers (c.1310–12),” in Menteşeoğulları



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On the other hand, victories could create problems. Viewed from the orders’ perspective, there was always the danger that too comprehensive a victory, or more worryingly the subsequent outbreak of a long-term peace, might lead donors to conclude that Christendom’s opponents no longer posed a threat and by extension that its defenders no longer required their assistance. Examples of this kind of scenario can be found on many frontiers. In Iberia, following the conquest of Murcia and the subsequent treaty of 1244, the kingdom of Aragon lost its frontier with the Islamic states to the south. Although this sudden separation from Muslim territory did not dim the crusading ambitions of the current king (James I), it placed a question-mark over the local military orders’ future purpose and value within the kingdom. It seems likely that this geo-political shift goes some way to explaining why donations to the Templars from the Aragonese rulers and nobility began to decline during the later thirteenth century.22 In this case, victory created problems because it led donors to question whether they needed the orders in the same way as before.23 A similar case can be seen in the fourteenth century when the Teutonic Knights’ Lithuanian opponents began to discuss the possibility of converting to Christianity. This was a tantalizing prospect for the Catholic Church in general but for the Teutonic Knights it represented a major problem because the order’s basic purpose depended on sustained campaigning against its pagan neighbors. With the growing danger that their enemies might covert, linked to rising concerns that the Teutonic Knights’ crusading activities might actually be inhibiting the work of conversion, questions arose among contemporaries concerning their fundamental vocation and its usefulness to the Christian cause (even though crusading against the Lithuanians would persist for many years). As Torben Nielsen aptly remarked: “The Teutonic Order needed its enemy.”24

22

23

24

tarihi, 25–27 Nisan 2012, Muğla: bildiriler, ed. A. Çevik and M. Keçiş (Ankara, 2016), pp. 59–60. For a later example (the siege of Rhodes 1480) where the Hospitallers worked hard to spread news of their victory, see: Rombert Stapel, Medieval Authorship and Cultural Exchange in the Late Fifteenth Century: the Utrecht Chronicle of the Teutonic Order (Abingdon, 2021), p. 9; Theresa Vann and Donald Kagay, Hospitaller Piety and Crusader Propaganda: Guillaume Caoursin’s Description of the Ottoman Siege of Rhodes, 1480 (Farnham, 2015), passim. Alan Forey, The Templars in the Corona de Aragon (London, 1973), pp. 60–61; idem, The Fall of the Templars in the Crown of Aragon (Aldershot, 2001), p. xii; Maria Bonet and Julia Pavón, “Thinking About the Holy Land and Crusading in the Crowns of Aragon and Navarre (Thirteenth Century),” in Settlement and Crusade in the Thirteenth Century: Multidisciplinary Studies of the Latin East, ed. Gil Fishhof, Judith Bronstein, and Vardit Shotten-Hallel (Abingdon, 2021), p. 256. For another example of this, see Matthew Paris’s account of Robert of Artois’s argument with the military orders during the battle of Mansurah where he made a similar claim: Helen Nicholson, “Steamy Syrian Scandals: Matthew Paris on the Templars and Hospitallers,” Medieval History 2 (1992), pp. 76–77. I am indebted to Helen Nicholson for drawing my attention to this example. See: Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 7 vols., ed. Henry Luard (London, 1872–83), 5:149. Torben Kjersgaard Nielsen, “Providential History in the Chronicles of the Baltic Crusades,”

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It is possible that the battle of Montgisard (1177) created a similar effect. The encounter may have been an overwhelming victory for the kingdom of Jerusalem, and the Hospitallers clearly used the opportunity to solicit aid from Western Christendom, but it may also, as Phillips points out, have dulled Christendom’s appetite for crusading ventures in the following years.25 Montgisard was widely reported in the West. Later accounts of the battle report the seizure of vast hauls of plunder and even the presence of St. George, who reportedly fought in person within the Christian ranks, rather as he is said to have done during the First Crusade.26 Provoking a wave of celebration across Western Christendom, however, may have created the impression that the kingdom of Jerusalem (and the Hospitallers) could survive without external support, and Phillips notes that appeals for aid issued in 1181 and 1184–85 “elicited little response”, this when Saladin’s empire was expanding rapidly and the Franks were actually hard pressed. Phillips’ point is that the Christian victory at Montgisard may have led people to question whether the Eastern Franks really needed their help.27 This example underlines an important distinction in the process of reputational development – receiving praise and receiving practical support were not the same thing. Changing ground slightly, the conduct of warfare – even when successful – could at times provoke cynicism among an order’s detractors in the West. A case in point is the response offered by the English chronicler Matthew Paris to a letter received from the Templars in the Holy Land in 1244. This correspondence describes events directly before the battle of Forbie, when the Franks were on the front foot and their interests were prospering. In the letter the Templar master outlined the territorial gains made from a recent treaty with the Ayyubids as well as describing his plans for a new castle to be built on the road to Jerusalem.28 Matthew Paris reacted to this report without so much as a hint of celebration, but instead dismissively observed that the Templars and Hospitallers deliberately stirred up violence so that they could collect more donations from pilgrims.29 Here then is an example of “good” news arriving in Western Christendom only to provoke cynicism from one of the order’s critics. A similar judgement can be

25 26

27 28 29

in The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources, ed. Elizabeth Lapina and Nicholas Morton (Leiden, 2017), p. 389. Jonathan Phillips, The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin (New Haven, CT, 2019), pp. 121–22. For the reference to St. George, see: Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187– 1291, trans. Denys Pringle (Farnham, 2012), p. 87 (Wilbrand of Oldenburg); p. 214 (“the Ways and Pilgrimages of the Holy land”). For the reference to plunder, see: The Chronography of Robert of Torigni, ed. and trans. Thomas Bisson, 2 vols. (Oxford, 2020), 1:330–31. Phillips, The Life and Legend of the Sultan Saladin, p. 122. Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 4: 288–91. Original: Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 4:291. Translation: “Matthew Paris Describes the Public Reaction to an Appeal for Help sent by the Templars in July 1244,” in The Medieval Military Orders, trans. Nicholas Morton (London, 2014), p. 161. For discussion, see: Nicholson, “Steamy Syrian Scandals,” p. 79.



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found a few decades earlier in the work of Walter Map. He described the efforts made by the Assassins to secure a peace treaty with the kingdom of Jerusalem in 1173. He then explained how the Templars deliberately derailed this treaty by murdering the Assassins’ envoy. Strikingly, he explained the Templars’ behavior by observing that if the two sides (the kingdom of Jerusalem and the Assassins) had indeed arranged their proposed alliance then together they would have overthrown the entire Islamic religion because, according to Walter, the Assassins represented the major obstacle preventing the broader Islamic community from converting to Christianity.30 Walter’s account does not describe a military victory but notably he went on to observe that in this scenario the Templars would no longer have had an enemy: an outcome that they desperately wanted to avoid, thereby causing them to murder the envoy and scuttle the treaty. These are interesting statements. In fact, in both cases, these Western authors were almost certainly factually wrong in many of their conclusions. Regarding Matthew Paris’ accusation of pugnaciousness, the military orders’ posture in the Eastern Mediterranean in the thirteenth century was generally to seek peace rather than war with their Ayyubid and other Muslim neighbors – although it has to be said that they were a great deal more bullish in their military endeavors between 1239 and 1243 than in previous years.31 Indeed, there are other contemporary sources such as the Österreichische Reimchronik that offer the opposite characterization – that the military orders generally sought peace in defiance of those seeking war.32 As for Walter Map, it is hard to imagine that even if the Assassins had converted – which itself is highly improbable – this would have precipitated a sudden rush of converts to Christianity from the broader Muslim world. The value of these statements lies rather in their authors’ appreciation that the military orders needed to be at war if they were to maintain the flow of donations (Matthew Paris) and that too much success could cause an order’s vocation, and therefore its fundamental purpose, to evaporate (Walter Map). Exactly how influential or representative Matthew Paris and Walter Map’s views were within contemporary society remains an ongoing source of debate, but their reactions demonstrate that some at least recognized that victory could be problematic for the military orders. Another linked example, underling the dangers of victory, can be seen in the turbulent relationship between the king of Hungary and the Teutonic Order during the early thirteenth century. Having received a substantial swath of territory in Hungary’s border region of Burzenland in 1211, so that they could

30 31

32

Walter Map, De Nugis Curialium: Courtiers’ Trifles, ed. and trans. M. R. James, revised by C. N. L. Brooke and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1983), pp. 66–67. For discussion on the military orders’ peace-making activities in the late thirteenth century, see: Betty Binysh, “From Pugnacity to Peace-mongers: The Military Orders Protecting Property and People in the Latin East,” in The Military Orders Volume VII: Piety, Pugnacity and Property, ed. Nicholas Morton (Abingdon, 2020), pp. 303–21. Helen Nicholson, Love, War and the Grail: Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights in Medieval Epic and Romance, 1150–1500 (Leiden, 2004), p. 84.

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defend the kingdom against Cuman raiders, the Teutonic Order soon became too successful and too ambitious. Increasingly, as the order’s lands grew and prospered, the king’s fears of Cuman attack diminished to be overtaken by the new fear that the order would assert its growing independence and break away from royal authority.33 This could not be countenanced and so in 1225 he expelled the order from his lands, thus underlining the principle that too much success could stoke fears among an order’s patrons, especially if that success might threaten their interests. Consequently, military victory required careful handling by any military order. Ultimately patrons were only prepared to open their coffers if they felt that an order: (1) was performing a much-needed purpose, (2) genuinely needed their help, and (3) posed no imminent threat to their own interests. Orders that achieved victory to the extent of destroying their own vocation placed themselves in danger; so too did those orders whose military successes made them too powerful. This is not to say that some orders deliberately avoided achieving too complete a victory on their respective frontiers so as to avoid a drop in patronage; nevertheless, viewed from their perspective, there was a danger that victory might have the effect of building their reputation as milites Christi whilst simultaneously stoking fears that they were becoming too autonomous and/or undermining the perceived need to render them material support. Defeat Defeat was also a message to be handled carefully. Presented effectively, defeats could lead patrons to open their coffers and pour aid upon an order they considered deserving of their attention. This was the case during the Fifth Crusade when the crusade’s conspicuous failure did not prevent several orders from benefitting substantially from their role in the Damietta campaign.34 The participant Oliver of Paderborn frequently expressed his admiration for the Templars in his Historia Damiatina, presumably doing no harm to their reputation.35 The biggest winners from the Fifth Crusade, however, were the Teutonic Knights, whose famous master Herman von Salza travelled between Emperor Frederick II, Pope Honorius III and the crusading army in Egypt, winning respect in the major councils and admirers among Christendom’s most exalted figures. The 33 34

35

Nicholas Morton, The Teutonic Knights in the Holy Land: 1190–1291 (Woodbridge, 2009), pp. 47–48. Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, p. 52. Another possible example could be seen with the Second Crusade which was a military failure (at least in the Holy Land) but which Gervers connects to the rise of the Hospitallers in the kingdom of England: Michael Gervers, “Pro Defensione Terre Sancte: The Development and Exploitation of the Hospitallers’ Landed Estate in Essex,” in The Military Orders: Fighting for the Faith and Caring for the Sick, ed. Malcolm Barber (Aldershot, 1994), p. 6. Oliver of Paderborn, Die Schriften des kölner Domscholasters, späteren Bischofs von Paderborn und Kardinal-Bischofs von S. Sabina, ed. H. Hoogeweg (Tübingen, 1894), pp. 205–11.



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Fifth Crusade enabled the order to shine in the eyes of many leading figures, including both the pope and emperor, who showered support upon the Teutonic Knights both during and after the crusade. Evidently, the crusade’s failure did not inhibit the order from benefitting considerably.36 Defeat could also elicit increased levels of support by playing on fears that, unless western patrons offered aid quickly, a general collapse of the Christian military-political position might follow soon afterwards. The Castilian defeat at Alarcos in 1195, for example, had dire consequences for the local military orders, especially the order of Calatrava, which lost the Campo de Calatrava at this time, an area of roughly 340 square miles.37 Consequently, the Calatravans’ surviving brethren turned to their benefactors for assistance, most importantly to King Alfonso VIII, who offered them a far higher level of support in following years, stating explicitly in his donation charters that he was “taking pity” on their weakened state.38 Likewise the many letters of appeal written by military orders’ personnel seeking help from Western Christendom following their defeats in the Eastern Mediterranean during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries stand as testimony to the importance of such news in driving donations.39 It is especially notable that these letters often offer the most dire interpretation of any given defeat, highlighting its scale and consequences, presumably to produce an emotional reaction. To take one example, Bertrand of Blancfort, Templar master, ended his report to Louis VII of France on the Antiochene defeat at Harim in 1164 as follows: “may your excellence know that the eyes of all Eastern Christendom, after the Lord, are on you to liberate us from such misfortunes while there is still time.”40 The emotive appeal here is explicit, demonstrating the deliberate use of a defeat to induce higher levels of commitment from patrons. In 1244–45 the Hospitallers may have gone one stage further, following the kingdom of Jerusalem’s defeat at Forbie (17 October 1244), by penning an appeal to Louis IX of France that, according to one account, was written in blood rather than ink to stress to seriousness of the situation.41 Another approach employed by contemporaries when discussing the military orders’ battlefield defeats was to stress the martyrdom and self-sacrifice of their

36 37 38

39 40

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Morton, Teutonic Knights, pp. 31–42. Clara Estow, “The Economic Development of the Order of Calatrava, 1158–1366,” Speculum 57 (1982), p. 271. Quotation from: Joseph O’Callaghan, “The Order of Calatrava: Years of Crisis and Survival, 1158-1212,” in The Meeting of Two Worlds: Cultural Exchange between East and West during the Period of the Crusades, ed. Vladimir Goss and Christine Bornstein (Kalamazoo, MI, 1986), p. 422. For discussion, see: Bronstein, The Hospitallers and the Holy Land, passim. For the English translation, see: Letters from the East, 60. For the Latin text, see: “Bertrandi de Blancafort, magistri militiae Templi, ad Ludovicum,” Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, ed. Michel-Jean-Joseph Brial, 24 vols. (Paris, 1869–1904), 16:81. Bronstein, The Hospitallers and the Holy Land, 24; Chronica de Mailros, ed. Joseph Stevenson (Edinburgh, 1835), p. 163.

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fallen brethren.42 A clear example of this can be found in the description of the death of Jacquelin de Maillé (Templar) at the battle of Cresson (1187) offered by the Itinerarium peregrinorum. This account suggests a clear desire to produce a strong emotional reaction on the part of the reader in its description of Jacquelin’s final moments, for example when the author writes: “death is sweet when the victor lies encircled by the impious people he has slain with his victorious right hand.”43 Regarding the source, Nicholson points out that while the Itinerarium peregrinorum was not written by a Templar its “pro-Templar anecdotes may have been based on information supplied by the Templars.”44 This kind of narrative also intersected with the widespread contemporary belief – expressed famously by Bernard of Clairvaux – that the death of a Templar knight in battle was a blessed, even a triumphant act that brought glory to God.45 In this way, contemporary authors sought to frame battlefield defeats with an aura of spiritual victory. The presentation of defeats in this way might also have helped to nuance the standard contemporary assumption that military reverses took place as a direct consequence of the participants’ sins. The conviction that military defeats occurred “on account of our sins” was nearly ubiquitous during this period, even though alternative explanatory theological narratives could be advanced within intellectual circles.46 The military orders themselves offer the former kind of explanation quite freely – if briefly – in much of their correspondence dealing with such events. So, in his account of the Antiochene defeat of Inab and the death of Prince Raymond of Antioch (1149), Andrew of Montbard (a Templar) opens his correspondence stating quite candidly that “our sins were

42 43

44 45

46

For discussion, see: Nicholson, Love, War and the Grail, pp. 71–75. For the English translation, see: The Chronicle of the Third Crusade: The Itinerarium peregrinorum et Gesta regis Ricardi, trans. Helen Nicholson (Aldershot, 1997), p. 26. For the original Latin, see: “Itinerarium peregrinorum et Gesta regis Ricardi,” in Chronicles and Memorials of the Reign of Richard I, ed. William Stubbs, 2 vols., Roll Series (London, 1864–65), 1:7. For discussion on this event and other depictions of the military orders as martyrs, see: Helen Nicholson, “‘Martyrum collegio sociandus haberet’: Depictions of the Military Orders’ Martyrs in the Holy Land, 1187–1291,” in Crusading and Warfare in the Middle Ages: Realities and Representations, Essays in Honour of John France (Abingdon, 2014), pp. 101–18. For a rather less dramatic description of military orders’ brethren as martyrs, see the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle’s description of the Teutonic Knights’ defeat at the battle of Durben: The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, trans. Jerry Smith and William Urban (London, 1997), p. 71. Nicholson, “Martyrum collegio sociandus haberet,” p. 108. For discussion on this theme, see: Joachim Rother, Das Martyrium im Templeorden: Eine Studie zur historisch-theologischen Relevanz des Opfertodes im geistlichen Ritterorden der Templer (Bamberg, 2017), passim. For discussion on the exegesis surrounding defeat, see: John Cotts, “The Exegesis of Violence in the Crusade Writings of Ralph Niger and Peter of Blois,” in The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources, ed. Elizabeth Lapina and Nicholas Morton (Leiden, 2017), pp. 273–94.



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such that they caused us to lose the prince of Antioch.”47 This then raises the interesting challenge of explaining why the Templar author would have drawn attention to this explanation for his order’s defeat if, by extension, it could very easily be accepted by a reader as an admission of the order’s own sinfulness and culpability. Part of the answer must surely lie in the fact that this kind of “on account of our sins” explanation was so deeply embedded in the contemporary cultural discourses surrounding defeat that it would have been unthinkable for it to be omitted. It is also possible that it was included entirely sincerely, so as to demonstrate humility and to provoke prayer and spiritual intercession among recipients so that the order’s spiritual failings might be addressed. In either circumstance, however, the danger that this kind of admission might have been deemed as incriminating an order would presumably have been de-emphasized somewhat by authors who (as mentioned above) elaborated their accounts of defeat with emotive descriptions: of the martyrdom of the fallen, the pressing needs of the survivors and the imminent danger of widescale political-military collapse along the frontier. On a broader canvas, it might be observed that any major defeat on a crusading frontier was likely to set the machinery of crusading propaganda into motion. Typically, there would be: papal letters, sermons and preaching, organized prayers, bands of marching crusaders, and an atmosphere of anger, fear and resolution.48 This could engender a highly favorable environment for a military order seeking benefactions, placing it squarely at the heart of events and public interest, while reminding its neighbors that it represented Christendom’s best hope for the retrenchment of its position in the borderlands. An example of a crusading campaign drawing a military order to the public’s attention can be found in Louis IX of France’s second crusade of 1270. This campaign came about in response to the fall of Safad (a Templar stronghold) to the Mamluk sultan Baybars in July 1266. When news of this event arrived in France in September of that year, Louis IX contacted the pope, stating his desire to initiate a new crusade.49 The pope then set about raising crusaders and gathering monies for the support of the Holy Land.50 Even though the main military campaign was staged in large part against Tunis in North Africa, with only limited forces reaching the kingdom of Jerusalem, it still reflects how the Templars’ losses on the front line could provoke a strong reaction in the West.51 In this way – from a public image perspective – defeat could be used to an order’s advantage 47

48

49 50 51

For the English translation, see: Letters from the East, p. 48. For the original text, see: “Epistola A. Dapiferi militae Templi,” Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, ed. Michel-Jean-Joseph Brial, 24 vols. (Paris, 1869–1904), 15:540. 235For recent works on crusade preaching during the thirteenth century, see: Philip Baldwin, Pope Gregory X and the Crusades (Woodbridge, 2014); Miikka Tamminen, Crusade Preaching and the Ideal Crusader (Turnhout, 2018); M. Cecilia Gaposchkin, Invisible Weapons: Liturgy and the Making of Crusade Ideology (Ithaca, NY, 2017). Michael Lower, The Tunis Crusade of 1270: A Mediterranean History (Oxford, 2018), p. 39. Bronstein, The Hospitallers in the Holy Land, p. 125. Michael Lower, The Tunis Crusade of 1270, passim.

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by provoking an equally powerful counter-reaction in Western Christendom.52 The orders knew how to maximize the emotive impact of such appeals and the surviving sources speak of them busying themselves in organizing processions, gathering and transporting crusading taxes, marshalling forces and using their network of commanderies to disseminate news and requests for help; all of which kept Christendom’s eyes centered squarely on their exploits.53 Even so, military disasters could also be very damaging for an order’s public image in Western Christendom. There were occasions when an order suffered such enormous losses that its patrons came to doubt that it would ever be able to recover its former position. In such circumstances news of defeat could lead patrons to act in a very different way, switching abruptly from supporting an order’s expansion to calling for its replacement, dissolution, or amalgamation with a larger order. This is what happened in Livonia following the Swordbrethren’s defeat by the Lithuanians at Saule in September 1236. The Swordbrethren lacked an extensive network of estates in Central Europe to facilitate a rapid post-defeat recovery, a weakness that raised questions about their ability to provide for Livonia’s ongoing defense. These circumstances helped to persuade Pope Gregory IX in May 1237 to support an existing motion to merge the Swordbrethren with the Teutonic Order, effectively ending its existence as an independent order. In this case, military defeat played an important part in causing the order’s demise, although it is worth noting that the Swordbrethren themselves showed an interest in such a merger prior to their defeat at Saule; clearly they realized the weaknesses of their position.54 Other smaller military orders lacking a substantial support structure were also vulnerable to military defeat, a case in point being the order of Dobrin, which withered swiftly when it came under sustained attack from the Prussians.55 To take a rather different scenario, it must have been very damaging when the military orders disseminated inaccurate reports of victory concerning campaigns fought along a crusading frontier. For example, in May 1250 Benoit d’Alignan, bishop of Marseilles, announced enthusiastically to Pope Innocent IV that the Hospitallers had told him about the successful conquest of Cairo by Louis IX’s crusading army.56 To a contemporary eye, this was naturally a tremendously important piece of news. The conquest of Cairo essentially meant that Egypt 52 53

54 55 56

Bronstein, The Hospitallers in the Holy Land, passim. For a sample of the discussion on this topic, see: Jonathan Phillips, Defenders of the Holy Land: Relations between the Latin East and the West, 1119–1187 (Oxford, 1996), passim; Morton, Teutonic Knights, pp. 137–38; Schenk, Templar Families, pp. 203–49; Thomas Smith, “Pope Honorius III, the Military Orders and the Financing of the Fifth Crusade: A Culture of Papal Preference,” in The Military Orders Volume 6.1: Culture and Conflict in the Mediterranean World (Abingdon, 2017), pp. 54–61. William Urban, The Teutonic Knights: A Military History (London, 2003), pp. 86–90. Nicolaus von Jeroschin, The Chronicle of Prussia by Nicolaus von Jeroschin: A History of the Teutonic Knights in Prussia, 1190–1331, ed. Mary Fischer (London, 2021), pp. 45–46. Gallia Christiana novissima historia: Marseille, ed. J.-H. Albanés and Ulysse Chevalier (Valence, 1899), pp. 141–42 (No. 266).



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was now in Christian hands: a longstanding strategic goal for crusading strategists since the First Crusade.57 The only problem was that it simply was not true and soon afterwards reports began to emerge that, so far from achieving an overwhelming victory, the crusade had actually suffered an overwhelming defeat. Whatever the cause of this miscommunication, it cannot have done the Hospitallers much good to raise their correspondents’ hopes only for them to be dashed soon afterwards. Moreover, it may have fed into a rising skepticism manifested by some authors in this period concerning the accuracy of the reports sent to Western Christendom by the military orders in the Latin East.58 Notably, Matthew Paris reports rumors circulating about the conquest of Cairo in 1250 and then describes the crushing disappointment felt by many once it became known that this news was groundless. In this case at least the Hospitallers evaded Matthew’s criticism because he assigned responsibility instead to the bishop of Marseilles and the Templars.59 Defeats could be especially damaging if the orders were themselves implicated in the military failure. Classic examples here might include the rumors that the Templars accepted bribes to derail the Second Crusade at the siege of Damascus.60 Reputationally, this had the potential to be extremely damaging, although admittedly there does not seem to have been any dip in donations.61 Another case might be Matthew Paris’ view, expressed in his Chronica majora, that the Templars brought about their own defeat at Darbsak in 1237 through their own rash behavior.62 One way to circumvent the suggestion that the military orders were responsible for a failed crusade or military encounter was to advance the idea instead that the defeat had only come about because crucial commanders had deliberately ignored the military orders’ advice. This kind of approach had the effect both of exculpating the orders from blame and building their credentials as experts in Eastern Mediterranean warfare. Of course, this kind of expiatory argument may have been made in many cases simply because it was factually true. Reports contained in several sources tend to agree that when the leaders of the Barons’ Crusade set out on the raiding expedition that culminated in a serious defeat at Gaza in 1239, the Templars and Hospitallers had counselled them against the venture.63 To take a later example from the Seventh Crusade, 57 58 59 60

61 62 63

Nicholas Morton, The Crusader States and their Neighbours: A Military History, 1099– 1187 (Oxford, 2020), pp. 27–28. Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, p. 107. Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 5:118–19, 138. “Annales Herbipolenses,” in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores, ed. G. Pertz, 39 vols. (Hanover, 1826–2009), 16:7. John of Salisbury also reports that some people blamed the Tempars: John of Salisbury, The Historia Pontificalis of John of Salisbury, ed. and trans. Marjorie Chibnall (Oxford, 1956), p. 56–57. Indeed, reviewing the Hospitaller evidence from Essex in England, Michael Gervers suggests donations actually increased: Gervers, “Pro defensione Terre Sancte,” 6–7. Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 3:405; Nicholson, “Steamy Syrian Scandals,” pp. 72–73. See R. B. C. Huygens, “Un nouveau texte du traité ‘De Constructione Castri Saphet’,”

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the suggestion that the Templars advised Robert of Artois not to attack the town of Mansurah during the eponymous battle in 1250 is harder to verify because most or all the participants in that conversation (if it ever happened) died in combat immediately afterwards.64 For the purposes of this article, however, it needs to be observed that such arguments represented a route by which an order or its advocates could extricate themselves from blame. A particularly damaging statement claiming that the Templars deliberately connived in bringing about a series of Christian defeats can be found during the Templar Trial in England. This appears in the confession offered by Brother Thomas of Thoraldby in London (late June 1311).65 Thomas admitted that he had witnessed three occasions when the Templars intentionally refused assistance to their Christian compatriots during military actions in the Eastern Mediterranean. Among these, there was a naval engagement involving the king of Cyprus, during which the Templars deliberately withheld their aid from the Christian fleet and, when Thomas asked the Templar master why they were not offering their assistance, the master replied, “What’s that to you? You keep quiet.”66 At first glance, this story would have been absolutely damning because it suggested that, for all the support they received from Western Christendom, the Templars deliberately courted defeat and refused to support their allies in battle. This was doubtless the effect the story was intended to have because this confession was not freely given, but only offered after Thomas suffered torture. Seemingly, Thomas’ interrogators wanted to extract/fabricate a story of this kind because they recognized the impact that reports of this nature would have on the Templars’ reputation (and therefore on the progress of the trial): a point that emphasizes the centrality of the Templars’ military reputation to their broader institutional image. Ironically, Nicholson has shown that there are several incongruities in this confession that may imply that Thomas never actually participated in any of these encounters and so this report may have been nothing more than dangerous fiction.67 Nevertheless, in the court of public opinion, a fake account of treachery and defeat – if believed – could be as serious in its impact as an account grounded in reality. There was equally a danger that if a military order suffered too many defeats, then its patrons might become fatigued by incessant tales of woe and decide to cut off their support. The military orders presented themselves to their audiences

64 65 66 67

Studi medievali, third series, 6 (1965), pp. 378–79; Rothelin, “Continuation de Guillaume de Tyr de 1229 à 1261, dite du manuscript de Rothelin,” in Recueil des historiens des Croisades: Historiens Occidentaux, vol. 2 (Paris, 1859), p. 539. Although note that Philip of Nanteuil criticized the orders for not supporting the venture: Rothelin, “Continuation de Guillaume de Tyr,” p. 549; Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, p. 68. Chronica majora, 5: 148–49. Helen Nicholson, The Knights Templar on Trial: The Trials of the Templars in the British Isles, 1308–11 (Stroud, 2009), p. 82. The Proceedings against the Templars in the British Isles, ed. Helen Nicholson, 2 vols. (Farnham, 2011), 1:356–57; translated quotation from: 2:407. Nicholson, The Knights Templar on Trial, pp. 181–82.



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in Western Christendom as milites Christi: fighting knights defending Christendom’s frontiers. That kind of vocation carried the automatic assumption that they should enjoy victory at least some of the time. Likewise, individuals or families offering benefactions to support the crusading cause often granted the orders weapons, armor or horses: gifts indicative of the importance attached to the orders’ role as fighting institutions. Other donor families possessed lands or dynastic interests in frontier territory, which they anticipated the military orders would help to project, and so their support for an order was tied to a belief that the order would successfully safeguard their own interests.68 These considerations again all conceptually intersected with the expectation that these “investments” in the order’s warlike endeavors would produce some kind of “return” in the form of military success. This thought weighed heavily on the orders in the thirteenth century when, quoting Nicholson, “a generation grew up thinking the military orders incapable of winning battles.”69 Certainly, the military failures of the Fifth Crusade, the Barons’ Crusade, the Seventh Crusade, along with the Crusader States’ many defeats at Darbsak 1237, Forbie 1244, and a further major encounter fought against a coalition of Turkmen groups in 1261, as well as the cascade of reverses suffered against the advancing Mamluks in the 1260s, might have caused a malaise among their supporters.70 As Sultan Baybars once remarked in a letter written to the Hospitallers “What campaign have you ever won?”71 The impact of the orders’ frequent military defeats in the thirteenth-century Eastern Mediterranean may have been offset to at least some degree by the Crusader States’ conspicuous need for greater support. Certainly, several studies demonstrate that the Templars and Hospitallers retained a broadly positive image in the public imagination towards the end of the thirteenth century and that criticisms of their military failings in the Holy Land were actually fairly scarce.72 Nonetheless, these factors should be balanced against the downturn in donations experienced by many orders during the later thirteenth century, at least in some areas.73 This downtick in benefactions can be explained with reference to many factors, but ongoing defeat may well have been one of them. 68 69 70 71

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Schenk, Templar Families, pp. 209–10, 255, 258, 264–65. Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, p. 50 See, for example, Matthew Paris’ comments on the ongoing defeats in the Crusader States: Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 5:108. “A Critical Edition of an Unknown Source for the Life of al-Malik al-Ẓāhir Baibars: with Introduction, Translation, and Notes,” ed. Abdul Aziz al-Khowayter, 2 vols. (Unpublished PhD thesis, SOAS, 1960), 2: 454. For discussion on these themes, see: Carraz, L’ordre du Temple dans la basse vallée du Rhône, p. 438; Nicholson, Love, War and the Grail, p. 79; Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, p. 79. Bronstein, The Hospitallers and the Holy Land, p. 84. Nicholson confirms this pattern whilst noting important regional variations. She also notes that the Teutonic Order remained very popular in Germany “throughout the thirteenth century”: Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, pp. 59, 64–65.

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Further research is needed on the impact of these repeated defeats on the orders’ patrons and public image in the thirteenth century, but there are some clues about how the Templars themselves reacted to these defeats that warrant closer inspection. The first is in a poem written by the Templar Ricaut Bonomel in 1265 in which he bitterly recalls the recent fall of Caesarea and Arsuf, observing: So, he is really mad who wages war against the Turks Since Jesus Christ does not oppose them; For they have defeated and are still defeating, and that weighs heavily on me.74

Very obviously this was not a propaganda statement, but rather a knight trying and failing to come to terms with the endless military reverses endured by the Crusader States during the 1260s. It is useful, however, to compare his reaction to another statement written around the same time (1260–66) describing the construction of the castle of Safad (De constructione castri Saphet). It is not clear who wrote this text, but the author must either have been a Templar or at least very closely connected to the order because the document explicitly asks its reader to make donations to the order. Astonishingly, it contains the statement: “There [in the region around Safad] the Templars won many miraculous victories against the enemies of the Faith, which are not easy to recount since a great book could be written about them.”75 This is a very dubious claim. Far to the north, Antioch made substantial advances in the early 1260s with Mongol assistance, most notably its reconquest of Latakia. It also seems likely that the Hospitaller garrison in Krak des Chevaliers remained fairly front-footed in its wars against Hama and Homs during the first years of the decade. Still, in recent years, the kingdom of Jerusalem had been a conspicuously victory-free zone. It is possible that the author is referring to raids, perhaps dating back to Louis IX’s sojourn in the kingdom of Jerusalem, or perhaps to skirmishes that have not found their way into the chronicles. Still, the only major encounter to happen anywhere near Safad in this period occurred in 1261 when a large Turkmen force inflicted a substantial defeat on the kingdom of Jerusalem’s army in the Golan Heights, with the Templars suffering heavy casualties.76 The possibility has to be entertained therefore that this document deliberately glossed over the order’s persistent losses in the East for the purpose of propping up the Templars’ public image in the West.

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Original text: Antoine de Bastard (ed.), “La colère et la douleur d’un templier en Terre Sainte ‘I’re dolors s’es dins mon cor asseza’,” Revue des langues romanes 81 (1974), p. 356. Translation from: “Poem of Ricaut Bonomel (1265),” in The Templars, trans. Malcolm Barber and Keith Bate (Manchester, 2002), pp. 232–33. Original text: Huygens, “De constructione castri Saphet,” 385–86. Translation from: Hugh Kennedy, Crusader Castles (Cambridge, 1994), p. 197. “L’Estoire de Eracles empereur et la conqueste de la terre d’Outremer,” Recueil des historiens des Croisades: Historiens Occidentaux, vol. 2 (Paris, 1859), p. 445.



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Another equally suggestive piece of evidence concerning the impact of the Latin East’s spiraling defeats can be seen in a letter written by the Templar master William of Beaujeu to Edward I of England in 1275. This communication paints a predictably dismal assessment of the state of the Latin East, noting – among other things – the lack of food and the threat posed by the expanding Mamluk Empire. This is then coupled with an appeal for Edward to send aid or, better still, to devise a strategy to reverse the situation entirely. Significantly, within this appeal, William comments that a solution to the current situation is needed “so that we cannot be blamed afterwards should something disastrous happen.”77 Clearly then, he was acutely alive to the danger that – should the Crusader States fall – his own order would be on the receiving end of a sizeable slab of the blame. A linked question revolves around the impact of the final collapse of the kingdom of Jerusalem in 1291 on the military orders’ public image.78 Was this the damning event that destroyed the orders’ credibility? Or did their reputations actually escape largely unscathed? Scholarly views on this topic are as mixed as the surviving evidence and here is not the place to offer a comprehensive overview. Still, to take a few examples, Bronstein’s conclusion seems to be that criticism of the orders increased after the fall of the Crusader States. Certainly, there is a strong logic to this kind of view – they had after all failed in their vocation.79 There are also several accounts of the orders’ actions at the siege of Acre that criticize their behavior, including the unfavorable depiction of the Templars’ conduct offered in the Excidii Aconis gestorum collectio.80 Riley-Smith makes similar observations and notes that the loss of the Hospitallers’ hospital in Acre also temporarily prevented them from seeking support for their medical work.81 These observations however should be mixed with rather more laudatory depictions of the orders’ actions during the siege. Nicholson also adds the significant point that literary depictions of the military orders remained largely positive even after the fall of Acre.82 Also, MacLellan supplies another indicator of a 77

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English translation: Letters from the East, 163. Original: Charles-Victor Langlois and Charles Kohler, “Lettres inédites: concernant les Croisades (1275–1307),” Bibliothèque de l’école des Chartes 52 (1891), p. 56. For discussion on this topic, see: Jefferson, The Templar Estates in Lincolnshire, pp. 2–3, 56; Paul Crawford, “Did the Templars Lose the Holy Land? The Military Orders and the Defense of Acre,” in Acre and its Falls: Studies in the History of a Crusader City, ed. John France (Leiden, 2018), pp. 109–10. Bronstein, The Hospitallers and the Holy Land, p. 130. “Excidii Aconis gestorum collectio,” The Fall of Acre 1291, ed. R. B. C. Huygens (Turnhout, 2004), pp. 71–72, 89–93; Nicholson, Templars, Hospitallers and Teutonic Knights, pp. 126–27; Crawford, “Did the Templars Lose the Holy Land?,” p. 110. See also discussion of Thadeus of Naples’s depiction of the orders: Iris Shagrir, “Thadeus of Naples on the Fall of Acre,” in Acre and its Falls: Studies in the History of a Crusader City, ed. John France (Leiden, 2018), p. 160. Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Knights Hospitaller in the Levant, c.1070–1309 (Basingstoke, 2012), pp. 216–17. Nicholson, Love, War and the Grail, p. 4.

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more supportive reaction to the Hospitallers’ losses where he demonstrates a small spike in donations to the Hospitallers in England following the fall of Acre (1291). Whether this correlation – between the fall of Acre and the slight rise in donations to the English Hospitallers – can be interpreted as a causal link is as always difficult to know. As MacLellan points out, military/crusading considerations do not seem to have been major factors galvanizing English patrons to support the order.83 It remains however a thought-provoking point. Taking the evidence for the orders’ involvement in the siege of Acre overall, perhaps the safest conclusion is simply to caption the reaction as “mixed.”84 Piecing the above factors together it can be seen that the business of reporting victory and defeat was a complex matter for the military orders. Predicting how audiences in Western Christendom would react to “good” or “bad” news was a difficult art requiring a nuanced appreciation of the contemporary context. The bottom line however seems to have been that reactions to such news could create an impact at two inter-connected levels: (1) short-term material needs and (2) long-term reputation. Regarding the first of these levels (short-term needs), an order’s patrons clearly needed to make an assessment about whether their immediate assistance was required and, if so, what form their support should take. A truly dire defeat might diminish any willingness to render aid, based on the fear that the situation was now hopeless and that a fundamental change of approach was required (the merging of the Swordbrethren with the Teutonic Knights being a case in point). Victories could also have this effect because if an order could achieve victory with its existing resources then there was little incentive to send more. In other contexts, provided that there was a strong collective will among Christendom’s rulers to respond to a defeat (such as following the battle of Hattin), news of a defeat could tend in the opposite direction. Taken at this level therefore news of victory or defeat clearly led potential benefactors to make their own needs-based assessment of a military orders’ post-battle predicament, which then could result in a range of very different outcomes. But there is another level to this equation, this issue of long-term reputation. Military orders were supposed to win battles. Contemporaries could explain defeats theologically as a test from God and they could describe fallen brethren as martyrs, but ultimately the orders’ fundamental credibility required them to win at least some of the time. A major victory could underline the importance of their activities and silence their detractors (such as with the Hospitallers’ naval victory of 1312). Too many defeats could lead an order to fear permanent 83

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MacLellan, Donations to the Knights Hospitaller, pp. 28, 31–34. Helen Nicholson comments that given that losses suffered by the Templars in 1291 and later years “it would not have been surprising if some people in the west believed that any good knight who joined the Templars would be killed”: Nicholson, The Knights Templar on Trial, p. 63. Similarly, Crawford notes that contemporaries interpreted the military orders’ role in the defence of Acre in many different ways: Crawford, “Did the Templars Lose the Holy Land?,” pp. 110–14.



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reputational damage. Intersecting these considerations was the question of an order’s conduct on an unsuccessful campaign. If they were deemed to have fought well, then their reputations might survive intact even if the venture had failed. Conversely, if they fought badly, or if they were viewed as instrumental in causing the defeat, then the court of public opinion might tend in a rather different direction. In the final analysis reporting victories or defeats was a difficult business for a military order because it was difficult to predict how such news would be received. As with so many things, the trick was to steer the narrative. This however was not easy. It is natural to wonder therefore how much the military orders and their advocates were self-conscious about this process and attempted to mold or manipulate the narrative surrounding their military encounters to elicit the desired response from their intended audience. To some extent, the orders clearly made use of devices to maximize their advantage from such reports. They achieved this through all manner of approaches, ranging from writing their letters in blood, to adjusting casualty figures, to despatching a wounded brother as the emissary. Whether the orders went beyond such practices to make fundamental and sweeping changes to their accounts of a battle (for example, by reconstructing its basic narrative or outcome) seems unlikely because in most cases the accounts offered in these letters normally tally reasonably well with other accounts supplied by commentators from other cultures. The abovementioned report of the conquest of Cairo (1250) during the Seventh Crusade is the only truly glaring falsehood in the reports considered above and this could be – and was – disproved immediately by returning crusaders and so it seems more likely that this was a case of miscommunication rather than deliberate falsification. Overall, the terms “repackaging” and “re-framing,” rather than “wholescale redaction” or “reinvention,” probably best capture the military orders’ attempts to present their actions in a favorable light.

3 From Hattin to La Forbie: The Military Resources and Strategy of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1187–1244 Stephen Donnachie

Despite the Franks’ decisive defeat at the battle of Hattin in 1187, and the near destruction of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem that followed, by the battle of La Forbie in 1244 the Franks were able to muster an army that contemporary sources indicate was comparable in size to that which it had summoned for Hattin. Yet, how the Latin kingdom was able to recover its martial strength between these two battles has not been adequately explored in the current historiography. An analysis of early thirteenth-century Jerusalemite charter material and narrative sources for post-Hattin crusades to the Latin East suggests that the military resources of the Latin kingdom recovered steadily in the decades after Hattin, so that by the mid-thirteenth century the Franks were once again able to field a large force of knights and a significant body of infantry. The Military Orders quickly replaced the losses they had suffered at Hattin while the Latin kingdom’s baronage was able to assemble between 300 and 400 knights by the 1220s. The overall number of infantry available to the Latin kingdom is harder to assess, but the number of troops that the Franks could call upon in the early thirteenth century should not be underestimated. However, while the early thirteenth-century kingdom still possessed substantial military resources, its experiences at Hattin made it reluctant to employ these forces aggressively and risk another calamitous defeat. Rather, the Latin kingdom focused its attention upon limited objectives and waited until reinforcements from the Latin West arrived before undertaking any significant military action. The Latin kingdom of Jerusalem’s catastrophic defeat at the battle of Hattin on 4 July 1187 has been the subject of considerable study by historians of the Latin East.1 So comprehensive was the Frankish defeat at Hattin that very few knights 1

For discussions on the events surrounding Hattin, see: R. C. Smail, Crusading Warfare 1097–1193 (Cambridge, 1956), pp. 189–203; R. C. Smail, “The Predicaments of Guy de Lusignan, 1183–1187,” in Outremer: Studies in the History of the Kingdom of Jerusalem Presented to Joshua Prawer, ed. B. Z. Kedar, H. E. Mayer and R. C. Smail (Jerusalem, 1982), pp. 159–76; Benjamin Z. Kedar, “The Battle of Hattin Revisited,” in The Horns of Hattin. Proceedings of the Second Conference of the Society for the Study of the Crusades, Jerusalem and Haifa, 2–6 July 1987, ed. Benjamin Z. Kedar (Jerusalem, 1992), pp. 190–207; Peter Edbury, “Propaganda and Faction in the Kingdom of Jerusalem: The Background to

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remained in the kingdom for its defense, and in the months that followed the battle, the kingdom was almost annihilated as one Frankish city after another fell to Islam.2 Only through the intervention of the Third Crusade (1189–92) was the Latin kingdom preserved, as crusader forces successfully restored a narrow strip of coastal territory, punctuated by a handful of port cities, to Frankish control. Though subsequent crusades saw more territory returned to the Franks, the Latin kingdom was never restored to its pre-Hattin borders, and this sliver of land along the littoral remained as its territorial core for the final century of its existence. However, despite the near destruction of the Latin kingdom in 1187, and its diminished size thereafter, by October 1244 it was able to muster an army for the battle of La Forbie that contemporary sources indicate was comparable in size to that which it had summoned for Hattin. Moreover, the Latin kingdom’s army at La Forbie was the dominant force in a regional military alliance against Egypt.3 Yet, how the Latin kingdom was able to recover its martial strength between the battles of Hattin and La Forbie, and how quickly this was achieved, has not been adequately explored in the current historiography. Additionally, given the scale of the defeat at Hattin and its subsequent impact upon the size of the Latin kingdom, scholarship has yet to consider the long-term effects that the battle had upon the kingdom’s military practices. Therefore, this article will assess the military capabilities of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem following the battle of Hattin and evaluate the impact the battle had upon the nature of the warfare it conducted in the first half of the thirteenth century. The period of investigation will commence with the battle of Hattin in 1187 and conclude with the battle of La Forbie in 1244. The army fielded at Hattin by the Latin kingdom represented its full military might in the late twelfth century while at the height of its territory and power, and therefore provides a benchmark against which the kingdom’s forces in the thirteenth century can be compared. The Hattin army consisted of approximately 1,200 knights, with about 600 knights drawn from the Military Orders and about another 600 provided by the kingdom’s baronage. These knights were accompanied by a further 4,000 supporting cavalry and upwards of 15,000 infantry.4 The battle of La Forbie in

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Hattin,” in Crusaders and Muslims in Twelfth Century Syria, ed. M. Shatzmiller (Leiden, 1993), pp. 173–98; Bernard Hamilton, The Leper King and His Heirs (Cambridge, 2000); Michael Ehrlich, “The Battle of Hattin: A Chronicle of a Defeat Foretold?,” Journal of Medieval Military History 5 (2007), 16–32; John France, Hattin (Oxford, 2015). Only two knights could be found in Jerusalem for the city’s defense following Hattin, while Muslim chroniclers noted the lack of Frankish defenders in the kingdom’s other cities after the battle. L’Estoire de Eracles Empereur et la conqueste de la terre d’Outremer, Recueil des historiens des croisades: Historiens Occidentaux (hereafter RHC Occ.) 2 (Paris, 1859), p. 70; Baha al-Din, The Rare and Excellent History of Saladin, trans. D. S. Richards (Aldershot, 2001), pp. 75–76. For a discussion of the battle of La Forbie, see Ilya Berkovich, “The Battle of La Forbie and the Second Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem,” Journal of Military History 75 (2011), 9–44. The figure of 1,200 knights present in the army at Hattin is recorded by contemporary



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1244 provides a terminus ad quem for this study, when the kingdom of Jerusalem acted as the leading partner in a military alliance with the Ayyubid rulers of Syria against their Ayyubid Egyptian rivals. Contemporary accounts for this battle indicate that the Jerusalemite army was approximately 1,200 knights, with an estimated 600 knights drawn from the Military Orders and about another 600 provided by secular sources, along with a large body of infantry.5 That the Latin kingdom’s baronage was still able to field a force of knights at La Forbie that was comparable to what it had mustered for Hattin is quite remarkable, as these numbers were achieved despite the kingdom’s territorial losses and that the rising costs and changing status of knighthood in this period had seen the number of knights decline in the Latin West.6 Indeed, by 1244 the Latin kingdom’s military prowess was great enough that its Muslim neighbors viewed it as a desirable ally whose assistance could prove vital in resolving their own dynastic disputes. Moreover, La Forbie was the largest deployment of the Latin kingdom’s forces since Hattin outside the context of a crusade. Therefore, the battle of La Forbie represents the moment when the kingdom of Jerusalem could demonstrate that it was once again a regional power. Until now, no thorough investigation of the military capabilities of the kingdom of Jerusalem between the battles of Hattin and La Forbie has been conducted. Though attention has been paid to the crusades that arrived in the Latin East between 1187 and 1244, the different national groups from the Latin West who provided these crusades’ participants, commanders, and narrative

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sources, including a letter from the Patriarch of Antioch. The thirteenth-century legalist, John, count of Jaffa, recorded that the barons of the Latin kingdom were expected to produce 675 knights for the kingdom’s army in the late twelfth century, while other writers noted that the Templars and Hospitallers each possessed about 300 knights at this time. L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 47; Roger of Howden, Chronica, ed. William Stubbs, 4 vols. (London, 1868–71), 2:323–25, 340–42; Regni Hierosolymitani historia, ed. Georg Heinrich Pertz, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores (hereafter MGH SS) 18 (Hanover, 1863), p. 53; John of Ibelin, Le Livre des assises, ed. Peter Edbury (Leiden, 2003), pp. 607–16; M. N. Adler, The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela (London, 1907), p. 22; Smail, Crusading Warfare, pp. 88–90; France, Hattin, p. 81. L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 428; Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, ed. H. R. Luard, 7 vols. (London, 1872–83), 4:301–02, 307–11, 337–44; Salimbene de Adam, Cronica, 2 vols. (Bari, 1966), 1:255. For a discussion of the number of knights present at the battle of La Forbie, see Ibn al-Furat, Ayyubids, Mamlukes and Crusaders, trans. M. C. Lyons and J. RileySmith, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1971), 2:173, n. 2; Berkovich, “La Forbie,” pp. 26–31. The costs required to maintain a knight as well as the social status associated with knighthood had begun to change in the Latin West from the twelfth to thirteenth centuries. It is quite possible that similar changes occurred in the Latin East at this time. For a discussion of these changes, see Peter Coss, Lordship, Knighthood and Locality: A Study in English Society c.1180–c.1280 (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 12–16, 211–57; David Crouch, The Image of Aristocracy in Britain 1000–1300 (London, 1992), pp. 100–12; Michael Prestwich, “Miles in Armis Strenuus: The Knight at War,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th ser., 5 (1995), 201–20; John France, Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000–1300 (London, 1999), pp. 53–63.

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sources have overshadowed the contributions made to these campaigns by the Franks of the kingdom of Jerusalem.7 The absence of a strong monarchy in the Latin kingdom at this time, as the crown of Jerusalem passed through a series of heiresses and absentee monarchs from 1186 to 1268, undoubtedly hindered efforts at establishing greater Jerusalemite representation upon these campaigns, as the Latin kingdom lacked prominent royal figures who could contend with powerful western magnates. Consequently, the Latin kingdom has been placed in a supporting role in the historiography, as modern assessments of these crusades have examined them primarily from the perspective of the Latin West. For example, James Powell’s Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213–1221 provides an excellent account of the Fifth Crusade (1217–21) and considers the role of the titular king of Jerusalem, John of Brienne (1210–25), in its overall command, but the work does not explore Jerusalemite military resources or attitudes in its examination of the crusade’s campaigning in Egypt and Palestine.8 Similarly, Michael Lower’s work on the Barons’ Crusade (1238–41) focuses upon the papacy’s call to arms and the crusade’s preparations in the Latin West, with little attention given to the state of the Latin kingdom’s martial abilities in the 1230s.9 At present, Christopher Marshall has provided the most comprehensive examination of the military history of the Latin kingdom in the thirteenth century in Warfare in the Latin East, 1192–1291.10 However, this work explores the thirteenth century as a whole, and it is the period after 1244 with the threat posed by the Mamelukes to the Latin kingdom, rather than the Ayyubids during the early thirteenth century, that commands much of its discussion. While events from the early thirteenth century are considered, this is usually as part of a broader analysis of the entire century, and periods of transition across it are not always explored. Moreover, the legacy of Hattin upon the Latin kingdom and its effects on Frankish warfare are not considered in depth. So far, only Ilya Berkovich’s 7

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For example, accounts of the Third Crusade are often Anglo-centric because the most detailed chronicles covering the campaign focus upon Richard I, king of England. Similarly, modern assessments of the Fourth Crusade have focused upon events at Constantinople rather than those in the Latin East, despite the considerable numbers of crusaders who arrived in the Latin kingdom by 1204. For the Third Crusade, see William Stubbs, ed., Itinerarium peregrinorum et gesta Regis Ricardi, auctore, ut videtur, Ricardo canonico Sanctae Trinitatis Londoniensis, Chronicles and Memorials of the Reign of Richard I, 1 (London, 1864); Ambroise, The History of the Holy War: Ambroise’s Estoire de la Guerre Sainte, ed. and trans. Marianne Ailes and Malcolm Barber, 2 vols. (Woodbridge, 2003). For the Fourth Crusade, see Robert de Clari. La conquête de Constantinople, ed. Philippe Lauer (Paris, 1924); Geoffrey of Villehardouin, La conquête de Constantinople, ed. Edmond Faral, 2 vols. (Paris, 1938). The most detailed examination of the Fourth Crusade’s campaigning in the Latin East is Benjamin Z. Kedar, “The Fourth Crusade’s Second Front,” in Urbs Capta: The Fourth Crusade and its Consequences, ed. Angeliki E. Laiou (Paris, 2005), pp. 89–110. James M. Powell, Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213–1221 (Philadelphia, PA, 1986). Michael Lower, The Barons’ Crusade: A Call to Arms and its Consequences (Philadelphia, PA, 2005). Christopher Marshall, Warfare in the Latin East 1192–1291 (Cambridge, 1992).



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study of the battle of La Forbie has touched upon the subject of the recovery of the Latin kingdom’s martial resources in the early thirteenth century.11 However, this is as part of an assessment of the numbers present in the Frankish army at the battle. Consequently, the contextual development of these numbers and the wider military experiences of the Latin kingdom in the years after Hattin are not explored in detail. Therefore, Marshall and Berkovich’s works provide an excellent starting place for this study, but further investigation is required. Evaluating the Latin kingdom’s military standing in the early thirteenth century is no easy task, as historians are reliant upon the numbers given by medieval writers to determine the size and composition of its armies. Medieval authors could inflate the number of troops present in an army for literary effect or to underscore the magnitude of participation. Likewise, medieval writers often focused upon elements within an army, stating the number of knights present but not the number of infantry, or emphasizing specific national groups to which they were affiliated while aggregating other combatants. Their writing could reflect not only the varying levels of information that were available to them, but also the interests of the audience and patrons for whom they were writing. Therefore, establishing the size of any medieval army must remain a process of reasoned estimation.12 However, the frequency of crusading in the early thirteenth century has left us with a plethora of narrative sources that include accounts of the military activities of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. Significantly, we possess a series of related chronicles, collectively known as the Continuations of William of Tyre, that are the major narrative texts covering the events in the Latin East after 1187 from the perspective of the native Franks.13 Furthermore, letters from the Jerusalemite baronage, the Military Orders, pilgrims, and crusaders, as well as Jerusalemite charter material can be used to build upon the numbers stated in chronicles, and help create a more detailed picture of the martial forces available to the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth

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Berkovich, “La Forbie,” pp. 9–44. For an example in estimating the size of a medieval army on crusade and a discussion of the role of numbers in medieval sources, see John France, Victory in the East: A Military History of the First Crusade (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 122–43; Peter Biller, The Measure of Multitude: Population in Medieval Thought (Oxford, 2003). For William of Tyre’s history, see William of Tyre, Chronicon, ed. R. B. C. Huygens, Corpus Christianorum: Continuatio Mediaevalis 63 (Turnhout, 1986). The editions of the Continuations of William of Tyre commonly used by historians are L’Estoire de Eracles; L. de Mas Latrie, ed., Chronique d’Ernoul et de Bernard le Trésorier (Paris, 1871); M. R. Morgan, ed., La continuation de Guillaume de Tyr, 1184–1197 (Paris, 1982). For a discussion of the creation and evolution of the Continuations, see Peter Edbury, “The Lyons Eracles and the Old French Continuations of William of Tyre,” in Montjoie: Studies in Crusades in Honour of Hans Eberhard Mayer, ed. B. Z. Kedar, J. Riley-Smith, and R. Hiestand (Aldershot, 1997), pp. 139–53; Peter Edbury, “The French Translation of William of Tyre’s Historia: The Manuscript Tradition,” Crusades 6 (2007), 69–105; Peter Edbury, “New Perspectives on the Old French Continuations of William of Tyre,” Crusades 9 (2010), 107–36.

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century.14 Importantly, we possess a detailed list of knights’ fiefs compiled by the thirteenth-century legalist, John, count of Jaffa, which details the military service owed by the barons of the Latin kingdom to the crown of Jerusalem in the years just prior to Hattin.15 While the list is not a complete representation of the Latin kingdom’s military standing in the late twelfth century, as it only records the numbers of knights each lordship was expected to produce, rather than what it could actually achieve through subinfeudation or other means, it does provide a scale by which the Jerusalemite lordships in the early thirteenth century can be measured. What an analysis of this material suggests, is that despite the Latin kingdom’s decisive defeat at Hattin and its subsequent loss of territory, its military resources recovered steadily in the decades that followed the battle. This martial recovery was built upon the growing commercial prosperity of the kingdom’s coastal cities, and by the mid-thirteenth century the kingdom was still able to muster a large force of knights and a significant body of infantry. The Military Orders quickly replaced the losses they had suffered at Hattin, while the kingdom’s baronage was able to assemble between 300 and 400 knights by the 1220s. Though it is harder to assess the overall number of infantry available to the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century, the number of troops that the Franks could call upon should not be underestimated. However, while the thirteenth-century Latin kingdom still possessed substantial military resources, it was reluctant to employ these forces aggressively and risk another calamitous defeat that could jeopardize the security of the realm. Rather, the Latin kingdom focused its attention upon limited objectives and waited until crusading reinforcements from the Latin West arrived before undertaking any significant military action. The Foundations of the Latin Kingdom’s Post-Hattin Military Before assessing the martial resources available to the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century, it is essential to consider the foundations upon which these numbers stand. According to contemporary sources, the Jerusalemite army at La Forbie contained approximately 1,200 knights drawn from the Military Orders and the kingdom’s baronage. These figures appear in both Christian and Muslim accounts, and are included in a letter from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, who was well placed to provide an accurate description of the forces involved.16 However, Berkovich’s study of the battle of La Forbie has suggested that the baronial contribution to the army summoned for the La Forbie was at most 14

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The core collections of Jerusalemite charters are H. E. Mayer, ed., Die Urkunden der lateinischen Könige von Jerusalem (hereafter D. Jerus.), 4 vols. (Hannover, 2010); Reinhold Röhricht, ed., Regesta regni Hierosolymitani, MXCVII–MCCXCI (Innsbruck, 1893), Additamentum (Innsbruck, 1904). John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 607–14. Ibn al-Furat, Ayyubids, Mamlukes and Crusaders, 2:173, n. 2; L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 428; Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 4:301–02, 337–44; Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 30.



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between 422 and 432 knights.17 Even then, this would have required a significant redistribution of military service obligations across the kingdom’s limited post-Hattin territory, as well as the exploitation of new cash fiefs in the kingdom’s few remaining cities to compensate for all the landed fiefs lost in 1187. Furthermore, Berkovich believes that this task was impeded by the kingdom’s continued succession problems, as it lacked a strong centralized authority to implement such changes, and questions whether the remaining port cities could have provided a sufficient financial basis for all the cash fiefs required.18 These are well-reasoned concerns, but evidence suggests that the thirteenth-century kingdom of Jerusalem was able to establish new fiefs across its remaining territory and possessed the financial resources to support these changes. Firstly, the reorganization of fiefs would have been of interest to the Jerusalemite baronage, even in the absence of strong royal authority, as supporting enough knights to secure the few territorial possessions left to the Latin kingdom after Hattin would have been of paramount importance. Indeed, during the reign of Aimery de Lusignan, king of Jerusalem (1197–1205), two knights were commissioned by the crown to collect rents from the city of Acre and distribute the money to others.19 Therefore, by c. 1200, efforts to address the need for the reorganization of fiefs were underway in the Latin kingdom, as Aimery was either trying to restructure the pre-1187 system of cash fiefs that had existed in Acre, or was attempting to create new ones to accommodate knights dispossessed after Hattin. In 1232, John, lord of Caesarea, offered fiefs to any man who would assist his uncle, John of Ibelin, in relieving his lordship of Beirut, which was then under siege.20 To make such an offer, John of Caesarea must have either retained unused fiefs in his own lordship, or possessed the means to create new ones. By the mid-thirteenth century, the legal treatise of John of Jaffa considered the count of Jaffa, the lord of Sidon, and the prince of Galilee to be superior to other barons in the Latin kingdom because their lordships each commanded the service of one hundred knights.21 While this may have been true in the twelfth century when these lordships were at their territorial heights, following the battle of Hattin they were substantially smaller possessions, as lands belonging to these lordships lost in 1187 were never fully recovered.22 However, if the territorially smaller lordships of the thirteenth century were 17 18 19 20 21 22

Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 28. Berkovich, “La Forbie,” pp. 27–30. Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, p. 311. Gaston Raynaud, Les gestes des Chiprois (Geneva, 1887), p. 83. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 600, 607. The numbers of knights given by John of Jaffa dates from the 1180s and were not updated to reflect the Latin kingdom’s post-Hattin circumstances. Ascalon, which contributed twenty-five knights towards the count of Jaffa’s figure in the twelfth century, was only under Frankish control briefly from 1241 to 1247 in the thirteenth century. The lands east of the Jordan that contributed forty knights to the prince of Galilee’s total, and Bethsan, which contributed twenty-five knights to the lord of Sidon’s force in the twelfth century, were never recovered in the thirteenth century. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, p. 607;

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able to, or expected to, produce the same number of knights as they had in 1187, then some reorganization of the fiefs within those lordships must have taken place, possibly through the creation of new cash fiefs to compensate for lost landed fiefs. Even if the figure of one hundred knights was just a legal fantasy by baronial lawyers, such numbers must have been believable, or considered representative of the martial assets available to these lords, if they were still viewed as preeminent among their baronial peers. Furthermore, the use of cash fiefs was already well established in the coastal cities that remained to the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century. Following its foundation by the First Crusade (1096–99), the nascent twelfth-century Latin kingdom had maintained a force of several hundred knights, with as many as two hundred knights relying on cash fiefs funded by the annual tribute paid by the Muslim rulers of just some of the coastal cities that it still retained in the early thirteenth century. This tribute represented only a fraction of the overall wealth available to these cities, and when these cities were subsequently captured by the Franks in the twelfth century, the cash fiefs they had previously supported were assigned to them directly.23 Therefore, in the early thirteenth century when these coastal cities were once again under Frankish control, and the entirety of their financial resources were available to the Franks, it is quite possible that they could have continued to support two hundred knights, if not more, through the exploitation of cash fiefs. Indeed, the use of cash fiefs in these cities was increasingly viable, as the commercial prosperity of those cities grew significantly in the early thirteenth century. The post-Hattin recovery of the Latin kingdom coincided with a period of rapid commercial expansion in the region by the merchants of Italy.24 Genoese, Pisan, and Venetian merchants, as well as those from Amalfi, Ancona, and Marseille all acquired numerous commercial concessions and trading privileges in the Latin kingdom’s coastal cities from 1187 onwards.25 Consequently, the Latin kingdom’s port cities, especially its

23

24

25

Peter Edbury, John of Ibelin and the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Woodbridge, 1997), pp. 127–41. In the early twelfth century, the cities of Acre, Caesarea, Arsuf, and Ascalon were paying a tribute to the kings of Jerusalem that could have supported up to 200 knights, but according to the list of John of Jaffa, in the late twelfth century these cities only owed the service of 130 knights. Alan Murray, “The Origin of Money-fiefs in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem,” in Mercenaries and Paid Men: The Mercenary Identity in the Middle Ages. Proceedings of a Conference held at the University of Wales, Swansea, 7th–9th July 2005, ed. John France (Leiden, 2008), pp. 275–86; John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 607–14. Eliyahu Ashtor, “Il Regno dei crociati e il commercio di Levante,” in I comuni Italiani nel regno crociato di Gerusalemme: Atti del colloquio The Italian Communes in the Crusading Kingdom of Jerusalem, ed. Gabriella Airaldi and Benjamin Z. Kedar (Genoa, 1986), pp. 15–56. The merchants of Genoa, Pisa, Venice, Amalfi, Ancona, and Marseille acquired trading privileges in the cities of Acre, Tyre, Beirut, and Haifa, as well as those in the neighboring kingdom of Cyprus and the county of Tripoli between 1187 and 1236. Mayer, D. Jerus., 2:812–14, no. 478, 2:819–21, no. 480, 2:855, no. 514, 2:859–65, no. 519, 2:869–72, no. 521, 2:888–94, no. 526, 2:907–10, no. 533, 2:929–32, no. 568, 2:955–63, nos 578–79; Röhricht,



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principal port of Acre, became busy centers of Eastern Mediterranean trade and substantially wealthy places.26 Money distributed by the crown of Jerusalem from taxes collected at Acre’s harbor is indicative of the general prosperity of the kingdom’s coastal cities. In 1181 and 1183, Joscelin III, titular count of Edessa, was granted annual sums of 1,000 bezants from Acre’s harbor, a payment that his heirs were still receiving in 1220.27 In 1198, Prince Bohemond IV of Antioch was using his annual income of 4,000 bezants from Acre’s harbor to repay his debts to the Hospitallers, while in 1229, the German emperor and king of Jerusalem, Frederick II Hohenstaufen (1225–42), granted 6,400 bezants a year to the Teutonic Order, and another 6,000 bezants a year to the baron Conrad de Hoenloc from the harbor’s income.28 Such figures represent only a fraction of the overall revenues generated by Acre’s harbor that were available to the crown, for such figures must represent only the sums that the crown was willing to sacrifice to acts of largesse. That the crown, the baronage, and the Military Orders were all able to draw thousands of bezants annually from Acre’s harbor suggests that just this one source of revenue could have supported a considerably large number of knights or other troops. Indeed, Frederick II’s grant of 6,000 bezants to Conrad de Hoenloc came with the expectation of providing the service of a further nine knights. The average income for a fief needed to support one knight for one year has been estimated at approximately 400–500 bezants.29 Therefore, the annual grant of 6,400 bezants to the Teutonic Order by Frederick II could have supported between twelve and sixteen knights a year. When combined with the grant to Conrad de Hoenloc, this was the equivalent of a significant lordship within the Latin kingdom.30

26

27 28 29 30

Regesta, p. 176, no. 662, pp. 210–11, no. 792, p. 244, no. 912, p. 252, nos 950–51, p. 254, no. 965, p. 268, no. 1025, pp. 271–72, nos. 1037, 1041, p. 275, no. 1050, p. 280, no. 1071. Muslim forces were astounded by the quantity of trade goods left behind by the Franks in the warehouses of Acre following the city’s surrender in 1187, and by 1241 it was reported that Acre provided its lord with £50,000 of silver annually, a sum greater than the ordinary annual income of the English crown. D. S. Richards, The Chronicle of Ibn Al-Athir for the Crusading Period from Al-Kamil Fi’l-Ta’rikh, 3 vols. (Aldershot, 2006–08), 2:324–25; Matthew Paris, “Itinéraire de Londrés a Jerusalem,” in Itinéraires a Jérusalem et descriptions de la Terre Sainte, ed. Henri Michelant and Gaston Raynaud (Geneva, 1882), p. 137; Jonathan Riley-Smith, The Feudal Nobility and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, 1174–1277 (London, 1973), p. 64. Mayer, D. Jerus., 2:726–28, no. 427, 2:742–45, no. 437, 3:1041–52, no. 639. Röhricht, Regesta, pp. 197–98, no. 742; Mayer, D. Jerus., 3:1111–13, no. 662, 3:1141–43, no. 674. Joshua Prawer, Crusader Institutions (Oxford, 1980), pp. 33–34. Frederick’s grants to the Teutonic Order and Conrad de Hoenloc when combined could have supported between twenty-two and twenty-six knights. For comparison, the lordships of Caesarea, Jaffa, and Ascalon were expected to provide twenty-five knights each, Beirut twenty-one knights, and Tyre twenty-eight knights. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 607–14.

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In addition to the revenues generated by Acre’s harbor, the crown and baronage of the Latin kingdom also possessed numerous markets, gates, ovens, mills, gardens, and other properties that provided further income. Indeed, the urban growth of the kingdom’s coastal cities in the early thirteenth century indicates their general prosperity. John of Ibelin, the lord of Beirut, rebuilt Beirut’s fortifications and constructed a lavish palace in the city between 1197 and 1212.31 At the same time, the city of Acre witnessed the construction of a new series of walls, towers, and gates to enclose the suburb of Montmusard.32 This suburb, which had comprised gardens prior to 1187, grew across the thirteenth century to include bathhouses, covered markets, hospitals, and nineteen new churches.33 Similar refortification and the construction of new churches occurred in Beirut, Sidon, Tyre, and Caesarea.34 The average cost to build a medium-sized stone church in the Latin East is estimated at 29,915 bezants in laborer’s wages alone, before including any additional costs required for decorating and furnishing the building.35 Therefore, the nineteen new churches built in Montmusard after 1187 could have cost upwards of 568,404 bezants. This sum could have supported up to 1,421 knights for a single year.36 Evidently the seigneurial patrons and local communities that funded these construction projects had access to substantial financial resources. If such financial resources were available to build churches 31

32

33

34

35

36

The Ibelins acquired the lordship of Beirut following the city’s recapture in 1197. Its fortifications, which had been partially destroyed by its Muslim garrison, were repaired by 1212. Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:29; Arnold of Lubeck, Chronica, ed. Georg Heinrich Pertz, MGH SS 21 (Hannover, 1869), pp. 205–06; Willbrand of Oldenburg, “Peregrinatio,” in Peregrintatores medii aevi quatuor, ed. J. C. M. Laurent (Leipzig, 1864), pp. 166–67. David Jacoby, “Montmusard, Suburb of Crusader Acre: The First Stage of its Development,” in Outremer: Studies in the History of the Kingdom of Jerusalem Presented to Joshua Prawer, ed. B. Z. Kedar, H. E. Mayer, and R. C. Smail (Jerusalem, 1982), pp. 205–17. Jacoby, “Montmusard,” pp. 205–17; Adrian J. Boas, “A Rediscovered Market Street in Frankish Acre,” Atiqot 31 (1997), 181–86; Denys Pringle, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, 4 vols. (Cambridge, 1993–2009), 4:15–18; Denys Pringle, “Churches and Settlement in Crusader Palestine,” in The Experience of Crusading vol. 2: Defining the Crusader Kingdom, ed. Peter Edbury and Jonathan Phillips (Cambridge, 2003), p. 176. The city of Acre possessed twenty-seven churches in the twelfth century, but this number rose to seventy-one during the thirteenth century. The number of churches in Tyre rose from fourteen in the twelfth century to twenty-six in the thirteenth century, while Beirut went from twelve to fourteen, Sidon six to eight, Caesarea four to nine, and Jaffa ten to twelve. Pringle, “Churches and Settlement,” p. 176. Vardit Shotten-Hallel and Robert Kool, “What Does it Take and Exactly How Much? Building a Church in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem in the Twelfth Century,” in Crusader Landscapes in the Medieval Levant: The Archaeology and History of the Latin East, ed. Micaela Sinibaldi, Kevin J. Lewis, Balazs Major, and Jennifer A. Thompson (Cardiff, 2016), pp. 289–304. This is just a theoretical example, as the churches in Montmusard were of different sizes and were not all built at the same time. But the sum of 568,404 bezants could have supported between 1,136 and 1,442 knights for a year based on the estimation of 400–500 bezants for the annual cost of a knight’s fief.



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and fortifications, then it is possible that some of those resources could have been spent on supporting the kingdom’s knighthood and other troops. Land may have been scarce in the post-Hattin Latin kingdom, but cash was not. This enabled the redistribution of service obligations from landed fiefs to cash fiefs in the kingdom’s remaining coastal cities as any territorial losses suffered in 1187 were offset by the income generated from trade. Therefore, despite its limited size, the thirteenth-century Latin kingdom had the financial means to support a large body of knights and other troops for its defense. The Size of the Latin Kingdom’s Army The commercial prosperity of the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century provided it with the financial resources it needed to maintain a large force of knights and other troops. But how big an army could the kingdom summon, how many knights could it muster, and how quickly were these numbers attained following its defeat at Hattin? Of all the martial assets available to the Franks, it was the Military Orders who made the quickest recovery from Hattin. As large international organizations with possessions spread across the Latin West, the Military Orders were able to transport men and money to the Latin East to replace any losses sustained in warfare. The Templars and Hospitallers had fielded a combined force of approximately 600 knights at Hattin in July 1187. Yet, despite the execution of Templar and Hospitaller prisoners in the immediate aftermath of the battle, Hospitaller reinforcements had arrived in the Latin East by October 1188, and, along with the Templars, were active at the Third Crusade’s siege of Acre (1189–91).37 When the army of the Third Crusade marched south along the Palestinian coast in the summer of 1191, it was the Templars and Hospitallers who occupied the important positions in the van and rear of the army respectively.38 These positions were vital to maintaining the integrity of the marching army and were positions that could expect to suffer sustained attack. To undertake these crucial roles, the two orders must have possessed enough troops to hold the positions. During the Fifth Crusade, both orders were supporting hundreds of knights in Egypt, each losing about 200 across the campaign.39 In 1237, when news of the defeat of over 100 Templars in northern Syria reached England, Hospitaller knights set out from London to support their comrades in the Latin East.40 Again, despite serious losses at the battle of Gaza during the Barons’ Crusade in 1239, both the Templars and Hospitallers were able to muster over 300 knights each for La Forbie in 1244.41 37

38 39 40 41

Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 2:324; Stubbs, Itinerarium, pp. 218–20; Röhricht, Regesta, p. 181, no. 677; Judith Bronstein, The Hospitallers and the Holy Land: Financing the Latin East 1187–1274 (Woodbridge, 2005), p. 12. Stubbs, Itinerarium, pp. 252–54. R. B. C. Huygens, Lettres de Jacques de Vitry 1160/1170–1240 (Leiden, 1960), pp. 121–22. Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 3:404–06. The Patriarch of Jerusalem recorded that the Templars lost 312 knights at La Forbie, with

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Therefore, the territorial losses suffered by the kingdom of Jerusalem were of little hindrance, as the international structure of these two orders allowed them to continue contributing upwards of 600 knights to the Latin kingdom’s defense in the early thirteenth century. Moreover, the creation and growth of the Teutonic Order after 1191 provided a substantial boost to the Latin kingdom’s defenses. While numbers for the nascent order were initially small, by 1211 it had acquired several important fortifications in the neighboring kingdom of Armenia, and by 1226 possessed the men and resources to merit the construction of a castle-headquarters at Montfort close to Acre.42 The order continued to grow throughout the 1230s, and by the 1240s may have begun to rival the Templars and Hospitallers in the number of knights it was able to maintain in the Latin East. Jonathan Riley-Smith and Christopher Marshall have estimated that the Teutonic Order was able to support approximately 150 knights, but others have suggested significantly greater numbers.43 Therefore, by the mid-thirteenth century, the three Military Orders were able to support roughly 750 knights, if not more, in defense of the Latin kingdom. Consequently, by the battle of La Forbie, the Latin kingdom could call upon a force of knights from the Military Orders that was greater than what had been available to it at Hattin. In comparison to the Military Orders, the recovery of the Latin kingdom’s secular forces was much slower, but an analysis of the charter material of the kingdom’s coastal lordships in the early thirteenth century indicates that by the 1220s the Franks were meeting the service obligations specified by John of Jaffa. In 1200, Aimar de Lairon, lord of Caesarea, issued a charter that was witnessed by thirteen knights from Caesarea, while in 1201, Rohard, lord of Haifa, agreed to a charter issued by the daughter of a recently deceased knight that was witnessed by six knights from his lordship.44 As these charters pertain to the transfer of lands within their respective lordships, these witnesses were most

42 43

44

just thirty-three surviving the battle, while the Hospitallers lost 325 knights with only twenty-six survivors. However, other sources give slightly different figures for the number of survivors, with the master of the Hospitallers stating there were just eighteen from the Templars and sixteen from the Hospitallers. L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 414–15; Continuation de Guillaume de Tyr de 1229 à 1261, dite du manuscrit de Rothelin, RHC Occ. 2 (Paris, 1859), pp. 538–40, 564; Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, pp. 119–20; Salimbene, Cronica, 1:255; Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 4:301–02, 311, 337–44; Ibn al-Furat, Ayyubids, Mamlukes and Crusaders, 2:173, n. 2. For a history of the Teutonic Order in the Latin East, see Nicholas Morton, The Teutonic Knights in the Holy Land 1190–1291 (Woodbridge, 2009). Morton, Teutonic Knights, pp. 151–54; Marshall, Warfare, p. 52, n. 21; Jonathan RileySmith, The Knights of St. John in Jerusalem and Cyprus, c. 1050–1310 (London, 1967), p. 327. The thirteen knights from Caesarea are Simon, Matthew, Rainier de Caffa, Roger de Castellione, John, Gervais, … de Beugant, John Charles, Helias Charles, Isembard, Hugh de Buria, Gerard Passarel, and Robert Perret. The six knights from Haifa are Milo, Eustace, John son of Henry de Podio, Stephen, Thomas, nephew of the Archbishop of Tyre, and Henry. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 205, no. 768, pp. 208–09, no. 784.



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likely local knights rather than temporary migrants or crusaders who simply happened to be present at the time of the charters’ confirmation. In case of legal dispute, such men would be available to testify to the charter’s validity, and an investigation into the witnesses of the Caesarean charter suggests this was the case. One of Aimar’s witnesses in 1200 was Simon of Caesarea, who was also a witness in another five of Aimar’s charters between 1197 and 1207, and is mentioned as a local landowner within the lordship.45 Other knights named in the 1200 charter include Roger de Castellione, John Charles, and his brother Helias, who were also frequent witnesses and named landowners in the lordship, while three others, Rainier de Caffa, Gerard Passarel, and Robert Perret were likewise regular charter witnesses for Aimar at this time.46 However, as charters only required a few witnesses for verification, it is likely that there were more knights available in Caesarea and Haifa than those who appear in their respective 1200 and 1201 charters. Indeed, Simon of Caesarea witnessed a charter for Aimar de Lairon in 1205 along with his two unnamed sons, but they were not listed among the thirteen witnesses of the 1200 charter, while John Gervais, who had acted as a witness to one of Aimar’s charters in 1197 and had been made the viscount of Caesarea by 1205, is also absent from the 1200 charter.47 Additionally, members of the Costa family, who had served as the viscounts of Caesarea in the 1160s and who still possessed land in the lordship after 1187, are also absent from Aimar’s 1200 charter, though they appear as witnesses to his charters in 1197 and 1207.48 Moreover, the content of the 1200 charter mentions an individual called Soquerius, a land holder in the lordship who received a fief in place of his imprisoned uncle, and another relative called George. However, despite holding a fief, neither Soquerius nor George appears among Aimar’s witnesses between 1197 and 1207.49 The lords of Bethsan had owned property in the lordship of Caesarea during the twelfth century, though there is no evidence that they owed any military service for it and may still have been present in the lordship in the early thirteenth century. Despite the loss of Bethsan after Hattin, the Bethsan family were able to maintain a prominent position at the Jerusalemite royal court in the 1190s, and Rainier of Jubail, another knight who had also owned property in the lordship of Caesarea prior to 1205,

45 46 47

48 49

Röhricht, Regesta, p. 196, no. 736, p. 205, no. 768, pp. 216–17, no. 810, pp. 219–20, nos 818–19. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 196, no. 736, p. 205, no. 768, pp. 216–17, no. 810, pp. 219–20, nos 818–19. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 196, no. 736, p. 205, no. 768, pp. 216–17, no. 810. In the 1197 charter, a John Gervais appears as a single witness, but in the 1200 charter a John and a Gervais appear as two separate witnesses. This could be a simple error in the 1200 charter, or it could refer to two different individuals, as there are several other witnesses named John who appear in Aymar’s charters at this time. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 95, no. 361, pp. 110–11, no. 425, p. 164, no. 619, p.196, no. 736, pp. 216–17, no. 810, pp. 219–20, nos 818–19, pp. 263–64, no. 1003. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 205, no. 768.

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was likewise a leading member of Aimery de Lusignan’s royal circle.50 Both the Bethsans and Rainier of Jubail may have continued to hold property in Caesarea on which they supported themselves, and though not required to provide military service, they could still assist in the lordship’s defense if needed. Finally, Gerard Passarel, though a regular witness to Aimar’s charters in the early thirteenth century, had previously held a fief in the lordship of Nablus prior to Hattin.51 With the loss of Nablus in 1187, it appears that Gerard relocated to Caesarea and acquired Aimar’s patronage. It is possible that Aimar had access to other dispossessed knights like Gerard for the defense of Caesarea. The lordship of Haifa may also have had access to other knights not listed among the witnesses of the 1201 charter. The charter was issued by Christina, the daughter of Roger of Haifa, who, along with his brother John, had been active as a knight in the lordship since the mid-1160s.52 Though Roger had died some time prior to 1201, it is possible that his brother John was still alive, or that Christina had cousins or other family members who were still active in the lordship. Additionally, members of the Montgisard family, who had also been active in Haifa in the 1160s, were still present in the lordship in the 1230s, though they do not appear among Christina’s charter witnesses in 1201.53 According to John of Jaffa, the lordship of Caesarea was to provide the service of twenty-five knights, while Haifa was to provide the service of seven knights.54 Examining the witness lists of Aimar de Lairon’s charters between 1197 and 1207 reveals at least twenty-one local knights who could contribute towards that quota, while the seven knights required for Haifa can be accounted for in just the 1201 charter.55 These numbers could be increased further if families associated with the lordships like the Bethsans and the Montgisards are also included. The lordship of Beirut shows similar signs of recovery in the early thirteenth century. Between 1221 and 1226, John of Ibelin issued a series of charters granting commercial privileges within the lordship to Provençal and Italian merchants, in which a group of twelve witnesses feature consistently.56 These 50

51 52 53 54 55

56

Röhricht, Regesta, pp. 216–17, no. 810, p. 220, no. 819; Steven Tibble, Monarchy and Lordship in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem 1099–1291 (Oxford, 1989), pp. 67–69, 102–03; Stephen Donnachie, “Crown and Baronage in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem after the Battle of Hattin, 1187–1228,” Medieval Prosopography 32 (2017), pp. 107–12. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, p. 611. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 99, no. 377, pp. 108–09, no. 418; Mayer, D. Jerus., 2:536–41, no. 310. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 99, no. 377, p. 275, no. 1050. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 607, 611. The twenty-one knights for Caesarea are Aimar de Lairon, the thirteen named witnesses to the 1200 charter, Simon, Matthew, Rainier de Caffa, Roger de Castellione, John, Gervais, … de Beugant, John Charles, Helias Charles, Isembard, Hugh de Buria, Gerard Passarel, and Robert Perret, along with Soquerius and his relative George, Simon of Caesarea’s two unnamed sons, John Gervais, Adam Costa, and Adam Costa the Younger. In Haifa, if Rohard, lord of Haifa, is added to the six witnesses of the 1201 charter, then the requirement of seven knights is met. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 196, no. 736, p. 205, no. 768, pp. 208–09, no. 784, pp. 216–17, no. 810, pp. 219–20, nos 818–19. These are Baldwin of Ibelin, Clement of Ibelin, the castellan of Beirut, Reynald Mimars,



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included one of John’s sons, Baldwin of Ibelin, and Clement, the castellan of Beirut. While the presence of these two witnesses is easily accounted for, as the son of the lord and an important officer of the lordship they added considerable legitimacy to a charter, the consistent appearance of the others suggests their connection to John. One witness was Matthew of Nephin, who may have been a follower that John acquired through his first wife, Helvis of Nephin, daughter of the lord of Nephin in the county of Tripoli.57 Another witness was John’s cousin, Reynald Mimars, whose family had held a fief owing the service of four knights in the lordship of Nablus prior to 1187.58 With the loss of Nablus after Hattin, it is likely that the Mimars family sought the patronage of their more fortunate Ibelin cousins in Beirut. Certainly, they remained a regular feature of the lordship across the thirteenth century. In an Ibelin charter of 1223, Reynald Mimars appears alongside his son, Hugh, while a Balian Mimars was serving the Ibelins as the castellan of Beirut in 1252. Yet another Mimars cousin, John Mimars, was present with the Ibelins in Cyprus in 1232, while another Ibelin relative, Anceau de Brie, served alongside the Ibelins in Cyprus and Palestine during the 1220s and 1230s.59 As with Gerard Passarel in Caesarea, it is possible that other knights who had held fiefs in Nablus alongside the Mimars family before 1187, including the nineteen knights that the Ibelins had been required to provide to the lordship, may have relocated to Beirut in the early thirteenth century.60 Furthermore, in 1232, Balian of Ibelin, one of John’s other sons, was accompanied by an entourage of five knights, which included two knights who were Balian’s vassals, two whom he had made knights, and one mercenary.61 These five knights, which included the chronicler Philip of Novarra, do not appear in any of John of Ibelin’s earlier charters from the mid-1220s. Of the twenty-one knights that the lordship of Beirut was expected to produce according to John of Jaffa, it is possible to identify at least twenty-three individuals connected to the lordship between 1221 and 1232 who could contribute towards that total.62 Again, it is possible that this number could be increased, as Balian of Ibelin’s

57 58 59 60 61 62

Matthew of Nephin, Thomas Retel, Henry Lepingre, Simon of Jaffa, Gerard Liece, Thierry Breban, Simon Grimaud, Walter Hardel, and William Harneis. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 252, nos 950–51, p.253, no. 957, p. 254, no. 963, p. 257, no. 977. M. A. Nielen, ed., Lignages d’Outremer (Paris, 2003), p. 62. Edbury, John of Ibelin, pp. 54, 146; John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, p. 610. Röhricht, Regesta, p. 254, no. 965, p. 274, no. 1049, p. 328, no. 1250; Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, p. 33; Edbury, John of Ibelin, p. 54. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, p. 611. These were Philip of Novara, Raymond de Flace, Peter of Montolif, Robert of Manueni, and Odo de la Ferte. Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, p. 102. These were John of Ibelin, his twelve recurring charter witnesses, Baldwin of Ibelin, Clement of Ibelin, the castellan of Beirut, Reynald Mimars, Matthew of Nephin, Thomas Retel, Henry Lepingre, Simon of Jaffa, Gerard Liece, Thierry Breban, Simon Grimaud, Walter Hardel, and William Harneis, as well as Balian of Ibelin and his five followers, Philip of Novara, Raymond de Flace, Peter of Montolif, Robert of Manueni, and Odo de la Ferte, along with Hugh Mimars, and John of Ibelin’s three other sons, John, Hugh, and Guy who had all come of age by the early 1230s. Edbury, John of Ibelin, p. 54.

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employment of a mercenary indicates that the Ibelins, as well as other prominent barons, had access to a further pool of knights for the kingdom’s defense. Balian’s uncle, Philip of Ibelin, had a Tuscan knight in his employ in the 1220s, while a band of mercenary knights referring to themselves as Macabeus Milites was operating in the Latin kingdom in 1233, and it was recorded that one hundred pilgrims fought in the army at La Forbie in 1244.63 Knights undertaking penitential warfare in the Latin East was not a new phenomenon. John of Jaffa included the contribution of one such pilgrim-knight in his service list for the late twelfth century, while in 1187, the Franks had spent the money sent to the Latin East by King Henry II of England in preparation for a crusade on hiring extra troops to fight at Hattin.64 Though it is not possible to know how many extra mercenary knights could be fielded in the Latin kingdom’s army, that they were legislated for in the kingdom’s first secular law code, the Livre au Roi, written between 1197 and 1205, suggests they were a familiar entity in the Latin kingdom at this time.65 Therefore, within the first few decades of the thirteenth century, the lordships of Beirut, Caesarea, and Haifa had access to a body of knights who could contribute significantly towards, if not actually meet, their respective twelfth-century service quotas. In the decades that followed Hattin, as the political and economic situation of the Latin kingdom stabilized, their ability to support more knights would have increased. In 1232, during a period of civil war in the Latin kingdom, the lordships of Caesarea, Haifa, and Le Tor assembled a combined force of forty-three knights, even though according to John of Jaffa they were only required to produce 38.66 While it is not known if these fortythree knights were directly linked to these three lordships, that the respective lords of these lordships led them during a civil war suggests a connection. That even minor lordships like Haifa and Le Tor were able to muster enough knights to match their pre-Hattin numbers, suggests that the kingdom’s larger and more prosperous lordships could have met or exceeded their service quotas.

63

64

65 66

Röhricht, Regesta, pp. 273–74, no. 1046; Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, p. 31; J. Stevenson, ed., Chronica de Mailros (Edinburgh, 1835), p. 158. For a discussions on the use of mercenaries in the Latin East, see Jean Richard, “An Account of the Battle of Hattin Referring to the Frankish Mercenaries in Oriental Moslem States,” Speculum 27 (1952), 168–77; Alan Forey, “Paid Troops in the Service of the Military Orders during the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries,” in The Crusader World, ed. Adrian J. Boas (New York, 2016), pp. 84–97; Kelly de Vries, “Medieval Mercenaries: Methodology, Definitions and Problems,” in Mercenaries and Paid Men: The Mercenary Identity in the Middle Ages, ed. John France (Leiden, 2008), pp. 43–60. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, p. 613; Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, p. 157. The Eracles noted that there were mercenaries present in the Jerusalemite army assembled for Hattin in 1187. L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 47. Myriam Greilsammer, Le livre au Roi (Paris, 1995), pp. 157–60, 251–52, 278–79. Caesarea owed twenty-five knights, Haifa owed seven, and Le Tor owed six. L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 394; John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 607–08, 611.



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If we examine the number of knights given by different chroniclers for Jerusalemite forces during the crusading campaigns of the early thirteenth century, we can see that the Latin kingdom’s baronage was able to muster several hundred knights overall. The army of the Fifth Crusade that gathered in the Latin kingdom in the autumn of 1217, under the command of the kings of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Hungary, as well as the duke of Austria, was numbered by the Eracles continuation of William of Tyre at 2,000 knights.67 By the spring of 1218, the king of Hungary had returned to the Latin West and the king of Cyprus had died. With the arrival of German and Frisian crusaders in the summer of 1218, an attack on the Egyptian city of Damietta was launched. According to the Eracles, the force that left for Egypt comprised only 300 knights, though other sources place the number between 1,200 and 1,400.68 While the loss of the Hungarian and Cypriot contingents would have reduced the overall numbers available for the campaign, the army of Jerusalem, the three Military Orders, as well as the Austrian, German, and Frisian contingents were all still present. Therefore, the figure of just 300 knights in a multinational force that was about to invade Egypt appears rather small. Given that the focus of the Eracles is upon the affairs of the Latin East, it is possible that the figure of 300 knights refers to just the secular forces of the Jerusalemite contingent within the crusading army. If one considers the list of John of Jaffa, then the number of knights that the baronage of Latin kingdom could produce with the lordships it still possessed in 1218, assuming they could provide the full number of knights stipulated, was approximately 269 knights, making the figure of 300 knights a realistic size for secular element of the Jerusalemite army.69 Indeed, further chronicle evidence suggests that a figure of 300–400 knights would be appropriate for the overall size of the Latin kingdom’s secular forces at this time. One account of the Fifth Crusade states that John of Brienne commanded 400 knights upon landing in Egypt in the summer of 1218. Again, for a crusading army this number appears quite low, and the text states that

67 68

69

L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 323. L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 326; Oliver of Paderborn, “Historia Damiatina,” in Die Schriften des Kölner Domscholasters, späteren Bishofs von Paderborn un Kardinal-Bishofs von S. Sabina, Bibliothek des Lillerarischen Vereins in Stuttgart (Tubingen, 1894), p. 259; “Fragmentum de captione Damiatae,” in Quinti belli sacri scriptores minores, ed. Reinhold Röhricht (Geneva, 1879), p. 200. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 607–14. These lordships were Acre with eighty knights, Sidon and Beaufort with fifty, Tyre with twenty-eight, Caesarea with twenty-five, Jaffa with twenty-five, the lordship of Joscelin III near Acre with twenty-four, and Beirut with twenty-one. The Archbishop of Nazareth owed six knights, and the Bishop of St. George and Lydda owed ten knights. Both churches had relocated to Acre following Hattin. Pringle, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, 4:77–78, 137–39. However, the figure of 269 knights may be an underestimate, as John of Jaffa’s treatise only lists the number of knights a lordship was required to produce. Other knights attached to royal or baronial households and mercenaries are not included. Edbury, John of Ibelin, p. 131.

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these were 400 knights “de la terra,” indicating they were from the Holy Land rather than crusaders from the Latin West.70 In addition to the 300 knights that the Eracles recorded as setting out for Egypt in 1218, it also noted that John of Bienne left behind 120 knights under the command of his marshal, James of Durnay, to repel Muslim raids into the Latin kingdom, while another continuation of William of Tyre reports that 500 knights were left behind to defend the kingdom.71 It is not possible to differentiate between the native Franks or western crusaders in the composition of these forces, but it seems likely that those who remained in Palestine were primarily from the Jerusalemite contingent, as their commander was the marshal of Jerusalem and their objective was the defense of the Latin kingdom while the main crusader force was attacking Egypt. Moreover, the 120 knights that John of Brienne left behind in the Latin kingdom when added to the 300 he took to Egypt, as recorded by the Eracles, totals 420 knights, which aligns well with Berkovich’s estimates for the size of the kingdom’s secular forces.72 Furthermore, in August 1219, when John of Brienne led the army of the Fifth Crusade to attack the Egyptian camp outside Damietta, he left behind 400 knights to guard the crusader camp under the command of Ralph of Tiberias, the seneschal of the Latin kingdom and one of its most senior barons.73 Once again, given the force’s commander, it would seem likely that it comprised, at least in part, troops from the Latin kingdom. Additionally, in 1231 John of Ibelin was able to assemble an army of 500 knights on the island of Cyprus to resist the forces sent to the Latin East by Frederick II. This included knights brought from Acre and the kingdom of Jerusalem.74 The kingdom of Cyprus only possessed 300 knights at most, meaning that at least 200 knights in John’s army must have come from the Latin kingdom.75 However, this force was assembled during a period of civil war in the Latin East, and the Ibelins did not command the full support of either the Cypriot or Jerusalemite baronages in their opposition to Frederick II. A significant proportion of the Cypriot barons, perhaps up to one third, would join with Frederick’s forces during the war, while prominent lords from the Latin kingdom, such as the lord of Sidon and the kingdom’s constable, were not yet committed to the Ibelins’ cause. Therefore, the Cypriot contribution to John’s army may have been less than 300 knights, while the Jerusalemite contingent of 200 or more knights represented only a fraction of the overall number of knights that the baronage of the Latin kingdom could produce at this time.76 70 71 72 73 74 75 76

“Fragmentum de captione Damiatae,” p. 201. Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, p. 415; L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 330. Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 28. “Fragmentum de captione Damiatae,” p. 186. Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, p. 78. Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, pp. 286–87; L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 191–92; Peter Edbury, The Kingdom of Cyprus and the Crusades 1191–1374 (Cambridge, 1991), p. 17. In 1232, eighty Cypriot knights joined with Frederick II’s forces against the Ibelins, while important Jerusalemite figures like Balian, lord of Sidon, and Odo de Montbéliard, the kingdom’s constable, did not support the Ibelins until the Ibelin lordship of Beirut was



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Therefore, by the period of the Fifth Crusade it appears that the kingdom of Jerusalem had regained the ability to field a force of approximately 300–400 knights, as drawn from secular sources. This was about half to two thirds of the roughly 600 knights that the kingdom’s baronage had mustered for Hattin in 1187. However, Berkovich has suggested that such figures were only reached in 1244 in a best-case scenario, where all the lordships that were then under Frankish control were able to produce the maximum numbers of knights stipulated by John of Jaffa.77 Yet, an examination of the charter material for the lordships of Haifa, Caesarea, and Beirut strongly indicates that the kingdom’s lordships were meeting their service requirements, if not exceeding them, by the 1220s. Moreover, following the conclusion of the Fifth Crusade in 1221, the Latin kingdom experienced almost two decades of relative peace with its Muslim neighbors, and saw the negotiated return of more territory in 1229 and 1241 that included the cities of Jerusalem, Ascalon, and Tiberias, along with the Galilee. This period of relative peace between 1221 and 1244 when combined with the return of territory, which in the case of Ascalon and the Galilee included fiefs worth another eightyfive knights, would only have encouraged the Latin kingdom’s martial recovery further, making it increasingly likely to meet Berkovich’s estimates.78 In comparison to calculating the number of knights available to the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century, estimating the overall number of infantry is more challenging, as the presence of such troops in the surviving source material is scarcer. Nevertheless, the evidence suggests that in the early thirteenth century the Franks were still able to summon a large force of infantry for the kingdom’s defense. John of Jaffa, in addition to listing the number of knights that the baronage of the Latin kingdom was expected to produce, also lists the number of sergeants that the kingdom’s cities and religious institutions were required to provide for its defense. This list totals 5,025 sergeants, who, as R. C. Smail has demonstrated, were to serve on foot.79 However, as with the number of knights, John of Jaffa only lists the number of sergeants that these cities and institutions were expected to produce, and not the actual numbers that could be mustered.80 Again, as with the number of knights, it has been suggested that only a fraction of these 5,025 sergeants could have been

77 78 79 80

besieged in 1232. The lordship of Sidon commanded fifty knights and the office of the constable ten knights. To this can be added the ten knights of Conrad de Hoenloc, who had been granted a fief in Acre for his services to Frederick II in 1229. Therefore, there were at least seventy knights in the kingdom who did not join the Ibelins in Cyprus in 1231. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 607, 611; Edbury, John of Ibelin, pp. 38–39. Mayer, D. Jerus., 3:1141–43, no. 674. Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 28. Ascalon was to provide twenty-five knights, while the Galilee was to provide sixty knights west of the Jordan. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, p. 607. John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 615–16; Smail, Crusading Warfare, pp. 90–93. The 5,025 sergeants listed by John of Jaffa were just for the cities and religious institutions of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. No mention is made of the number of sergeants or other infantry available to the baronage of the kingdom or the Military Orders. The

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summoned for La Forbie as many of the kingdom’s cities and ecclesiastical institutions lost in 1187 had not been recovered by 1244. Berkovich estimates that between 2,800 and 2,925 of the 5,025 sergeants were available to the Latin kingdom by 1244.81 However, the losses to the number of sergeants may not be as great as suggested. Firstly, though cities in the Latin kingdom’s interior had been lost in the aftermath of Hattin, many of the kingdom’s ecclesiastical institutions had survived by relocating to the cities of the coast, particularly Acre. The chapter of the Holy Sepulcher, the churches of the Mount of Olives, St. Mary of the Latins, the Templum Domini, and others, as well as the bishops of Bethlehem, Hebron, and Sebastea were all present and active in Acre in the early thirteenth century.82 Though they had lost their original lands and properties, there is no reason to believe that the requirement for these institutions to produce sergeants for the kingdom’s defense had lapsed, especially if they held lands elsewhere in the Latin East or Latin West. If we include the number of sergeants provided by ecclesiastical institutions that had successfully relocated to Acre after 1187, then the estimated number of sergeants available to the Latin kingdom can be increased to between 4,100 and 4,225.83 Secondly, John of Jaffa’s list only includes ecclesiastical institutions that had existed in the Latin kingdom prior to Hattin, and does not mention any founded after 1187 that were operating in the kingdom in the early thirteenth century, such as the Franciscans or Dominicans.84 It is possible that any new religious institutions established in the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century were also required to provide sergeants for the kingdom’s defense to make up for the numbers lost after Hattin. Indeed, the urban expansion of the kingdom’s coastal cities after 1187 indicates that the Franks still had a significant pool of manpower to call upon in the early thirteenth century. Though the kingdom’s loss of territory after Hattin

81 82 83

84

numbers of infantry could be increased by using the arrière ban, a general summons of all those fit to carry arms in the kingdom to come to its defense. Marshall, Warfare, p. 55. Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 29. Pringle, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, 4:19, 42–44, 51–53, 61, 139–40, 164, 172–74. The number of sergeants contributed by the chapter of the Holy Sepulcher, the churches of St. Mary of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, Mary of Mount Zion, the Mount of Olives, the Templum Domini, St. Mary of the Latins, and the bishops of Bethlehem, Hebron, and Sebastea are not included in Berkovich’s estimates for the battle of La Forbie in 1244. However, all were present in Acre in the early thirteenth century. According to John of Jaffa, these institutions were required to produce 1,300 sergeants for the Latin kingdom’s defense. When added to the 2,800–2,925 sergeants estimated by Berkovich, the total rises to between 4,100 and 4,225 sergeants, or 81–83 percent of the 5,025 sergeants available in 1187. Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 29; John of Ibelin, Livre des assises, pp. 165–16; Pringle, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, 4:19, 42–44, 51–53, 61, 139–40, 144–47, 164, 172–74. The Franciscans and Dominicans were established in Acre between 1219 and 1227, while new Cistercian houses had been founded in the Latin kingdom by 1222. Pringle, The Churches of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, 4:20, 46–49, 147–48.



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limited its access to sources of troops from non-Frankish communities located further inland, accounts from pilgrims in the 1210s indicate that various Greek, Syrian, and Armenian Christian communities were still resident in the kingdom’s coastal cities or active within its post-Hattin territory.85 Therefore the Franks could still call upon some of the kingdom’s non-Frankish communities to supplement their forces when needed as they had in the twelfth century, and Syrian troops were still serving in Frankish baronial armies in the 1250s and in Templar castle garrisons in the 1260s.86 During the Fifth Crusade it was noted that there were 2,500 archers serving as mercenaries in the crusader army, while the Military Orders were employing sergeants, crossbowmen and other troops on the campaign as well.87 Such numbers must have come from somewhere, possibly from the Latin East, and that sergeants, mounted or otherwise, are included in the legislation of the Livre au Roi suggests that they were still a familiar element within Latin kingdom at this time. The Livre au Roi mentions mercenary sergeants in relation to the duties of the kingdom’s marshal, suggesting that there was a pool of such troops present in the kingdom and available for service in its army.88 Moreover, that the manufacture of crossbows in Acre had grown to such proportions to become one of the city’s export goods by 1239 suggests there was a large domestic demand for these weapons in the first place and expertise in their production.89 Infantry in significant numbers continued to be a common feature of Frankish armies in the early thirteenth century. In 1203, 1,400 infantry, including archers, participated in a Hospitaller led raid into Syria, while 1,000 infantry and sailors were present in a naval raid on the Egyptian coast in 1211, and 1,500 infantry joined yet another raid into Syria in 1233.90 The force of 100 Templar knights that 85

86

87

88 89

90

The pilgrim Willbrand of Oldenburg noted there were many wealthy Greeks, Syrians, Jews, and Jacobites in Acre in 1212, while Jacques de Vitry, the Bishop of Acre, noted the presence of Georgians and Armenians in Acre, and encountered Greek Christians about Sidon in 1217. Willbrand of Oldenburg, “Peregrinatio,” p. 163; Huygens, Lettres de Jacques de Vitry, pp. 83–85, 92. The lords of Jubayl employed Christian archers from the nearby mountains in their armies in the 1250s, while the Templar garrison of Safed included Syrians in the 1260s. Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, pp. 151, 179. The identification of non-Frankish troops within the Latin kingdom’s army is more challenging in thirteenth century, as changes to naming conventions by these groups to better align with Frankish society can obscure their presence in the source material. Christopher MacEvitt, The Crusades and the Christian World of the East: Rough Tolerance (Philadelphia, PA, 2008), pp. 153–56. Oliver of Paderborn, “Historia Damiatina,” pp. 259; J. Delaville Le Roulx, ed., Cartulaire générale de l’ordre des Hospitaliers de St. Jean de Jérusalem 1100–1310, 4 vols. (Paris, 1894–1906), 2:253–54, no. 1633. Greilsammer, Le livre au Roi, pp. 156–60, 163–64, 170–73, 215–16, 223–24, 245–50, 256–62, 275–77. J. L., Huillard-Breholles, ed., Historia diplomatica Frederici Secundi, 6 vols. (Paris, 1852– 60), 5:587; David Jacoby, “The Trade of Crusader Acre in the Levantine Context: An Overview,” Archivio storico del Sannio n. s. 3 (1998), p. 110. Ibn-Wasil, “Mufarridj al-Kurub fi Akhbar Bani Aiyub,” in al-Makrizi, Histoire d’Egypte,

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was lost on a raid into northern Syria in 1237 was accompanied by 300 crossbowmen and other infantry, while just the Genoese community in Acre were able to assemble a force of 800 armed troops to defend their quarter in the city from attack by their commercial rivals in 1258.91 That over one thousand infantry could be mustered regularly to support raiding expeditions, which were smaller military operations that did not require the full commitment of the Franks’ military resources, suggests that the Franks retained much greater numbers overall. Similarly, the size of garrisons for castles constructed or expanded in the early thirteenth century is also indicative of the number of infantry available to the Franks. Though garrisons could include knights and other mounted troops, they also included a larger proportion of sergeants, archers, and other combatants.92 Willbrand of Oldenburg noted in 1211, that the Hospitallers maintained a garrison of 2,000 at their castle of Crac des Chevaliers and a further 1,000 at Margat.93 The Templars supported 4,000 troops directly at Château Pèlerin in 1220, in addition to other troops arriving from Acre, while their reconstruction of Safed from 1240 included a garrison of 1,700 during times of peace and 2,200 during times of war.94 These castles were just a handful among the many other fortifications held by the Military Orders and Frankish barons across the Latin kingdom. That they were built or refortified with such large garrisons in mind indicates that there was an expectation that such numbers could be provided for their defense when needed. While it is unlikely that such large garrisons were always maintained, and that outside periods of conflict not everyone in the garrison would have been a combatant, that they were designed to accommodate these numbers indicates the availability of troops in the Latin kingdom in general.95 Even when the Franks were defeated at La Forbie in 1244, there was no subsequent surrender of their cities or fortifications in the immediate aftermath of the battle as there had been following Hattin, suggesting that the Franks had enough troops for garrisons to keep their Muslim opponents at bay.96 Therefore, though we cannot put an overall figure on how large a force of infantry the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem could summon in the early thirteenth century, we should not underestimate its ability to muster infantry in significant numbers for its defense.

91 92 93 94 95 96

trans. E. Blochet (Paris, 1908), p. 278; History of the Patriarch of the Egyptian Church, vol. 3, ed. and trans. A. Khater and O. H. E. Khs-Burmester (Cairo, 1970), p.193; L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 402–04; Marshall, Warfare, pp. 192–93. Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, p. 152. Marshall, Warfare, pp. 118–21. Willbrand of Oldenburg, “Peregrinatio,” p. 170. Oliver of Paderborn, “Historia Damiatina,” p. 255; R. B. C. Huygens, ed., De constructione castri Saphet (Amsterdam, 1981), p. 41. Marshall, Warfare, pp. 118–21. Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 40.



Military Resources and Strategy of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem 119 The Latin Kingdom’s Post-Hattin Strategy

While the decades following Hattin saw the steady recovery of the Latin kingdom’s martial strength, it also witnessed the emergence of greater divisions amongst the kingdom’s Muslim adversaries. The regional unity established by the Ayyubid sultan, Saladin (1174–93), that had been instrumental to overwhelming the Latin kingdom in 1187, soon began to fracture following his death in 1193. Dynastic infighting among Saladin’s heirs limited the military resources directly arrayed against the Franks and diminished the threat the Ayyubids posed to the Latin kingdom.97 Though the danger of a crusade could temporarily unite the acrimonious Ayyubids, as occurred during the Fifth Crusade, the opposition facing the Latin kingdom after 1193 was comparatively weaker than what it had encountered in 1187, as the Franks no longer faced a single unified enemy.98 The large armies and financial resources that Saladin had assembled for the conquest of the Latin kingdom in 1187 could not be matched by his successors, who struggled to assert their authority over the disparate Ayyubid territories.99 Furthermore, Ayyubid infighting provided opportunities that the Latin kingdom could exploit to its advantage, allowing the Franks to combat the Ayyubids piecemeal. For example, the death of Al-Mu’azzam, the Ayyubid ruler of Damascus in 1227, and the city’s subsequent siege in 1228–29 by Al-Kamil, the Ayyubid ruler of Egypt, provided the Franks with the opportunity to establish greater authority over the area about Sidon and enabled Frederick II to negotiate the return of Jerusalem to Frankish control in 1229.100 Similarly, in return for Frankish assistance against Ayyubid Egypt in 1244, the Ayyubid rulers of Syria offered complete control over the city of Jerusalem and promised to cede other possessions in Egypt to the Latin kingdom.101 Therefore, though the Ayyubids were still a significant danger to the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century, they were not as great a threat as they had been prior to Hattin. However, despite the Latin kingdom’s growing martial strength and the disunity of its opponents, the Franks did not pursue an aggressive strategy to reas-

Marshall, Warfare, pp. 29–30. For a history of the Ayyubids in this period, see R. S. Humphreys, From Saladin to the Mongols: The Ayyubids of Damascus 1193–1260 (Albany, NY, 1977). 98 Powell, Anatomy, pp. 150, 186–88. 99 Saladin had fielded approximately 26,000 cavalry at the battle of Montgisard in 1177, and 12,000–14,000 cavalry at Hattin in 1187 drawn from just part of his territories. His successors in Damascus and Egypt in the thirteenth century could muster only 3,000 and 10,000–12,000 cavalry respectively, with the total Ayyubid army numbering about 22,000 men. William of Tyre, Chronicon, p. 991; Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 2:319; Anne-Marie Eddé, Saladin (Cambridge, MA, 2011), pp. 428–31; France, Hattin, p. 82; Marshall, Warfare, p. 33; Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 26; Yaacov Lev, “Infantry in Muslim Armies during the Crusades,” in Logistics of Warfare in the Age of the Crusades, ed. John H. Pryor (Aldershot, 2006), pp. 197–99. 100 Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:284–85, 289–92, 293–95. 101 Berkovich, “La Forbie,” p. 24. 97

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sert control over territory lost in 1187. Since the Latin kingdom’s foundation, the Franks had always been outnumbered by their larger and more populous Muslim neighbors. To counter Saladin’s army at Hattin, the Franks had been forced to mobilize all their available troops, including stripping the Latin kingdom’s fortifications of their garrisons. Consequently, when the Frankish army was defeated at Hattin, the kingdom lacked any reserve forces to defend its territory.102 Recovering the kingdom’s lost possessions required the Franks to commit their forces in strength to undertake the sieges necessary to bring territory back under their control. Yet, such operations were costly in manpower and resources, and by committing their forces to a lengthy siege, the Franks risked battle with a Muslim relief army. The diminished Latin kingdom could not afford another calamitous defeat like Hattin if it wanted to survive. However, if the Latin kingdom waited for the arrival of a crusade from the Latin West, then the extra troops and resources provided by that crusade reduced the direct risks to the kingdom’s own forces. The Franks could then undertake a greater scope of military operations, which were otherwise beyond their limited means, without jeopardizing the security of the realm in case of defeat. Therefore, the Latin kingdom chose to follow a more cautious approach and avoided committing its forces to campaigns of reconquest without the assistance of substantial reinforcements from the Latin West. Indeed, the presence of western crusading forces had been instrumental in restoring territory to the Latin kingdom in the years immediately after Hattin. Though the Franks had begun the siege of Acre in 1189, it was only with the arrival of large crusading forces in 1191, commanded by the kings of France and England, that Acre and the other cities along the Palestinian coast were captured.103 Likewise, the arrival of the German Crusade in 1197 saw the capture of the cities of Beirut and Sidon.104 In the early thirteenth century, the Latin kingdom only attempted to expand its borders with the aid of substantial western reinforcements. In 1201, three hundred knights arrived in the Latin kingdom as part of the Fourth Crusade (1202–04), but this force was not considered large enough for the Franks to break their truce with their Muslim neighbors. Only with the arrival of more crusaders by 1204, and the anticipation of further troops arriving from Constantinople, was hostile action taken, including a naval raid on the Egyptian coast. However, news of the fall of Constantinople in 1204 and the departure of troops to the new Latin Empire halted campaigning and saw the negotiated return of more territory to Frankish control.105 Though John of 102 Smail,

Crusading Warfare, pp. 97–106; Steve Tibble, The Crusader Armies (New Haven, CT, 2018), pp. 31–33, 317–21. 103 Stubbs, Itinerarium, pp. 61–62, 210–11, 232–34, 252, 255–57, 274, 281–82; John D. Hosler, The Siege of Acre, 1189–1191: Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle that Decided the Third Crusade (New Haven, CT, 2018), pp. 108–35. 104 Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, pp. 306–17; L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 209–30; Arnold of Lubeck, Chronica, pp. 205–10. 105 Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, pp. 355–60; L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 245–47, 260–63;



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Brienne arrived in the Latin kingdom in 1210 accompanied by three hundred knights from the Latin West, no noteworthy campaigning beyond some raids into the Galilee was undertaken.106 The arrival of the Fifth Crusade in 1217, and its 1218 attack on Egypt, was the Latin kingdom’s first major offensive against the Ayyubids since the Third Crusade. Though the Fifth Crusade ended in failure, it had come close to forcing the Ayyubids to make substantial territorial concessions to the Franks.107 Indeed, the greatest restorations of territory to the Latin kingdom came in 1229, when the Sixth Crusade (1228–29) returned Jerusalem to Frankish control, and in 1241, when the Barons’ Crusade saw Ascalon and Tiberias as well as the Galilee ceded to the kingdom. Even at La Forbie in 1244, when the Latin kingdom acted without support from the Latin West to attack Egypt, it only did so in alliance with the Ayyubid rulers of Syria.108 All instances in the early thirteenth century when the Latin kingdom chose to commit its forces in strength to recover territory came as part of an alliance with other powers. Even though the thirteenth-century kingdom possessed hundreds of knights and the support of three military orders, it did not undertake any significant sieges or campaigns of reconquest unilaterally. Rather, the Latin kingdom restricted its military activity to raiding. Raiding was a less intense form of warfare that required fewer troops and resources and posed fewer dangers to the kingdom’s security than battle. Marshall has argued that raiding in the thirteenth century was an act of desperation by the Franks, as it was the only offensive option left to them against opponents who were more powerful.109 That may be the case for the later thirteenth century when the Latin kingdom was surrounded by a strong Mameluke state, but raiding is also indicative of a frontier region, and the kingdom’s frontiers after 1187 were much closer to the heart of Frankish civilization along the coast than ever before. For the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century, raiding was a means of exerting its growing military power against its Muslim neighbors without endangering its existence by committing its forces to battle. Repeated raids into targeted areas could severely damage an adversary’s control over a region through the regular stripping of resources, the destruction of infrastructure, and the flight or subjugation of the local populace. Raiding damaged an opponent’s political authority, as it demonstrated that the opponent was unable to defend the contested territory, while simultaneously helping the raiders establish their own zone of influence as a precursor to eventual control. The capture of Sidon in 1197 saw the local Muslim population paying an annual tribute to the Franks by 1212, while repeated raids into Syria by the Hospitallers saw the Muslim rulers of Homs, Hama, and the Assassins forced to pay an annual tribute to the order

Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:79; Kedar, “The Fourth Crusade’s Second Front,” pp. 89–110. de Eracles, pp. 308–17. 107 Powell, Anatomy, p. 160. 108 Berkovich, “La Forbie,” pp. 21–24. 109 Marshall, Warfare, p. 205. 106 L’Estoire

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by the 1230s.110 Likewise, raiding about Tyre in 1228 forced the Muslim communities that dwelt in the nearby mountains to offer their allegiance to the Franks.111 Indeed, the Latin kingdom made frequent raids into the Galilee to establish its authority over this strategically important area. The Galilee was a highly fertile region that lay within the hinterlands of the Latin kingdom’s two largest cities, Acre and Tyre, and provided a key route into the kingdom across the River Jordan from Syria. In 1197, the Franks attempted to capture the castle at Toron, as the castle, which had originally been built by the Franks in the early twelfth century to threaten Tyre, now endangered Frankish control of the region.112 A large Frankish force raided across the Jordan near Mount Tabor in 1203, and further raids into the Galilee and across the Jordan were made by John of Brienne in 1210.113 It is possible that raiding on a smaller scale happened regularly, but because of its frequency or size was not considered noteworthy by medieval chroniclers.114 So problematic was Frankish raiding into the region, that the Ayyubids built fortifications atop Mount Tabor in 1213 to counter further attacks.115 However, more raids into the Galilee and a brief but unsuccessful siege of Mount Tabor by the Fifth Crusade in 1217 forced the Ayyubids to abandon the exposed strongpoint and destroy its fortifications in 1219.116 Similar demolition of Ayyubid fortifications in the Galilee in these years occurred at Belvoir, Toron, Hunin, and Safed. This further weakened Ayyubid control over the region, and it was noted by Muslim chroniclers that Frankish control over the area of Sidon was greatly improved through the destruction of Toron and Hunin.117 In 1227, when the Ayyubids erected new fortifications to defend Damascus from attack by the Sixth Crusade, it was at al-Subeiba to the east of the Jordan, rather than to the west in the Galilee, that they chose to build their castle.118 Even then, complaints about Frankish raids into this region and the Ayyubids’ failure to respond to them had begun to appear by 1217.119 In 1212, the Assassins were paying tribute to the Hospitallers, and a raid to enforce payment was launched in 1231. Likewise, in 1230, a raid against Hama was launched to enforce the payment of its tribute to the order. Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:79; Willbrand of Oldenburg, “Peregrinatio,” pp. 165–66, 170; L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 403–05; Marshall, Warfare, pp. 201–02. 111 Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:293. 112 Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:30, 79; L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 260–63; William of Tyre, Chronicon, pp. 502–03. 113 L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 316–17. 114 Marshall, Warfare, p. 185. 115 L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 317; Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:158. 116 L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 323–26; Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:175; Powell, Anatomy, pp. 128–32. 117 L’Estoire de Eracles, p. 339; Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:158, 175, 290. In 1198, German crusaders noted that control over Toron would enable the capture of two other important castles in the region, including Beaufort. Arnold of Lubeck, Chronica, p. 208. 118 Ronnie Ellenblum, “Who Built Qal’at al-Subayba?,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 43 (1989), 103–12. 119 Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:175. 110



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Al-Subeiba did not draw the same attention from the Franks as the fortifications at Mount Tabor had, and demonstrates the Ayyubids’ gradual retreat from the Galilee in response to Frankish raiding. The Latin kingdom’s cautious approach in the early thirteenth century stands in contrast to the actions of its early twelfth-century forebear, even though their circumstances were similar. The early twelfth-century Latin kingdom was a small Frankish realm surrounded by a hostile but divided Muslim world. Yet, with only 300–500 knights, the Latin kingdom expanded its borders through a series of sieges that brought much of the Palestinian coast under its control, and witnessed attacks on Aleppo, Damascus, and Egypt within the first few decades of its existence.120 Additionally, though the early twelfth-century kingdom did undertake campaigns with assistance from the Latin West, particularly Italian naval forces, its actions were not limited by the absence of such allies.121 The early thirteenth-century kingdom did not mirror this bellicosity despite the similarities in the size of the forces available to it, and that the later kingdom had access to three large military orders. Indeed, the early twelfth-century Latin kingdom’s repeated success in battle against their larger Muslim neighbors would have promoted a sense of invincibility among the Franks and encouraged further bellicosity to capitalize upon their victories. For the Franks of the early thirteenth century, Hattin and the near destruction of the Latin kingdom would have dispelled any notion of invincibility and shaken their military confidence.122 Another key difference between the two kingdoms was the geographical context in which they acted. The twelfth-century kingdom began as a small inland kingdom centered on Jerusalem. If it wanted to survive, then it had to act aggressively to conquer the cities of the coast and establish a naval lifeline back to the Latin West. The thirteenth-century kingdom already controlled the coast, so its lifeline to the Latin West was already secured. Consequently, the early thirteenth-century kingdom did not need to adopt an expansionist policy, as the acquisition of territory further inland was not essential to its survival. Therefore,

120 In

the first decade of the twelfth century, Arsuf, Caesarea, Acre, Beirut, and Sidon all fell to the Franks. The Frankish army was limited to just 300 knights in 1100, and 500 knights in 1105. Baldwin I, king of Jerusalem (1100–18), invaded Egypt in 1118, while his successor, Baldwin II (1118–31), besieged Aleppo in 1124 and attacked Damascus in 1126 and 1129. William of Tyre, Chronicon, pp. 445–46, 468–71, 486–87, 515–19, 543–44, 603–04, 608–10, 620–22; Fulcher of Chartres, Historia Hierosolymitana 1095–1127, ed. Heinrich Hagenmayer (Heidelberg, 1913), pp. 389, 496. 121 A lack of western naval support did not stop the Franks from besieging Arsuf in 1099, Acre in 1103, and Tyre in 1111–12, while the absence of western allies did not prevent the Franks invading Egypt in 1118 or attacking on Damascus in 1126. William of Tyre, Chronicon, pp. 445–46, 484–85, 521–22, 543–44, 608–10. 122 In addition to many successful sieges which brough the Palestinian coast under its control in the early twelfth century, the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem was also victorious in a series of battles against its Muslim neighbors, including the battles of Ascalon in 1099, and Ramla in 1101, 1102, and 1105. Fulcher of Chartres, Historia Hierosolymitana, pp. 311–18, 407–15, 424–28, 495–501.

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the Latin kingdom in the early thirteenth century could afford to pursue safer and less aggressive long-term strategies, such as raiding, to bring territory back under its control. The Latin kingdom, having secured its lifeline to the Latin West, could focus its attention on strengthening its hold over its limited coastal territory. The kingdom’s experiences in the aftermath of Hattin had demonstrated the considerable defensive potential of its coastal cities. Though the kingdom’s army had been destroyed at Hattin, the city of Tyre, which had been reinforced from the sea, had successfully resisted two separate sieges, while the Ayyubids’ ability to resupply Acre by sea prolonged the length of its siege during the Third Crusade.123 Likewise, though the port of Jaffa was besieged by Saladin in 1192, it was successfully relieved from the sea by the army of the Third Crusade.124 Other attempts at the relief or resupply of a besieged city by sea occurred at Jaffa in 1197, Caesarea in 1218, Athlit in 1220, Beirut in 1232, and Ascalon in 1247.125 Unlike cities and fortifications further inland, which could be isolated and overwhelmed, the Franks’ coastal cities allowed them to deploy or withdraw their limited forces by sea, thereby preserving the kingdom’s ability to fight and defend its other possessions. Such options were not available inland where a Frankish relief army could be defeated in battle. By heavily fortifying their coastal cities, as well as the inland approaches to them, the Franks improved their cities’ chances of withstanding a siege and enabled them to hold out until they could be relieved by sea. Richard, earl of Cornwall, noted this important advantage when refortifying Ascalon in 1241, and reported that because the city’s inhabitants had access to the sea, they had no fear of a siege.126 Moreover, the Franks possessed an acute advantage at sea, as the growth of Italian trade in the Eastern Mediterranean in the early thirteenth century brought greater Latin naval domination over the region, while Ayyubid naval power had steadily declined following the death of Saladin.127 Indeed, the Franks’ 1204 naval raid on the Egyptian coast had gone uncontested, because the Ayyubids lacked the ships to respond to the attack, while Frankish control over the Palestinian coast limited the operational range of the Ayyubid navy, as there were no friendly ports where their ships could resupply or take on water.128 With a clear naval advantage that favored their coastal possessions, the Franks chose to play to their strengths.

Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, pp. 236–43, 266; Hosler, Siege of Acre, pp. 44–46, 78–79, 98–101. 124 Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, pp. 280–81; Stubbs, Itinerarium, pp. 400–09. 125 Mas Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, p. 423; L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 219, 334, 432-35; Oliver of Paderborn, “Historia Damiatina,” pp. 254–56; Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, pp. 81–83. 126 Matthew Paris, Chronica majora, 4:138–44. 127 For a discussion on the Egyptian navy under Saladin, see A. S. Ehrenkreutz, “The Place of Saladin in the Naval History of the Mediterranean Sea in the Middle Ages,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 75 (1955), 100–16; Eddé, Saladin, pp. 431–37. 128 Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:81–82. 123



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Major repairs to existing defenses and new fortifications were constructed at Acre, Tyre, and Beirut by 1212, while further restoration work was carried out at Caesarea, Jaffa, and Sidon in the 1220s. New castles were built in the vicinity of Acre, at Athlit, Jiddin, and Montfort during the 1220s, while Ascalon and Arsuf were refortified by 1241. Further refortification was seen in the Galilee at Safed, Beaufort, and Tiberias in the years just prior to La Forbie.129 These fortifications were in areas already under the kingdom’s control and were intended to preserve its possessions rather than expand its borders. There was no equivalent offensive use of castles by the thirteenth-century kingdom to reduce enemy strongpoints for the purposes of territorial conquest, as had occurred about Tyre and Ascalon in the early twelfth century.130 Though the construction of Château Pèlerin at Athlit in 1218 did have a detrimental effect upon the Ayyubids’ defenses at Mount Tabor, the primary reason for its construction was to secure control over the coast to the south of Acre.131 Likewise, though Safed helped secure control over the Galilee, possession of the castle was not used to push Frankish power across the Jordan and threaten Damascus as the castle at Jacob’s Ford had in the 1170s.132 Indeed, the Franks were hesitant to move away from the security of the coast. This hesitancy was criticized by German crusaders during the siege of Toron in 1198, while Frederick II’s negotiated return of Jerusalem in 1229 was unpopular among the Franks because it was made without their agreement, and the city, isolated inland with limited fortifications, was impractical to defend.133 Despite

129 Mas

Latrie, Chronique d’Ernoul, pp, 421–23, 459, 461, 463; L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 365, 432–33; Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, pp. 121–24; Oliver of Paderborn, “Historia Damiatina,” pp. 169–71, 244; Willbrand of Oldenburg, “Peregrinatio,” pp. 163–64, 166–67; R. Röhricht, Annales de Terre Sainte 1095–1291 (Paris, 1884), p. 440; R. B. C. Huygens, “Un noveau texte du traité de constructione castri Saphet,” Studi medievali 6 (1965), 378–87; E. Strehlke, Tabulae Ordinis Theutonici (Toronto, 1975), pp. 56–57, no. 72; Denys Pringle, Secular Buildings in the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem: An Archaeological Gazetteer (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 80–82; Denys Pringle, Andrew Petersen, Martin Dow, and Caroline Singer, “Qal’at Jiddin: A Castle of the Crusader and Ottoman Periods in Galilee,” Levant 26 (1994), 135–66. 130 The construction of fortifications at Toron in 1106 and Scandaleon in 1117 were used to blockade Tyre, while those built at Beersheba in 1137, and Ibelin and Blanchegarde in 1142 were used to establish control over Ascalon. William of Tyre, Chronicon, pp. 502–03, 543, 659–61, 706–09; Steve Tibble, The Crusader Strategy (New Haven, CT, 2020), pp. 53–57, 126–32. 131 Ronnie Ellenblum, “Were there Borders and Borderlines in the Middle Ages? The Example of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem,” in Medieval Frontiers: Concepts and Practices, ed. David Abulafia and Nora Berend (Aldershot, 2002), pp. 113–14; M. Ehrlich, “Crusader Castles – The Fourth Generation: Reflections on Castle Building Policy during the 13th Century,” Journal of Medieval History 29 (2003), pp. 86–89. 132 William of Tyre, Chronicon, pp. 996–98; Hamilton, Leper King, pp. 142, 145; Huygens, “Saphet,” pp. 385–86. 133 Ottonis de Sancto Blasio, Chronica, ed. Adolf Hofmeister, Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum seperatim editi 47

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possession of Jerusalem until 1244, no major effort was made at its resettlement or refortification as occurred in the kingdom’s coastal cities, and no attempts were made to fortify locations between Jerusalem and the sea to secure access to the city. Furthermore, no expeditions were launched against the castles of Kerak and Shawbak to the south-east of the city. Possession of these two strongpoints would have greatly improved Jerusalem’s defenses, and their absence from the Ayyubid’s peace proposals during the Fifth Crusade was a leading reason for opposition to a negotiated truce.134 In 1228, it was noted by Muslim chroniclers that the areas about Jerusalem and Nablus were undefended, and it was feared that the Franks could easily take control of the area if they wished.135 Though there was a large Frankish raid on Nablus in 1242, the area does not appear to have been targeted as consistently by raiding in the same manner as the Galilee was throughout the early thirteenth century.136 It was the refortification of Ascalon, and not Jerusalem, that was the focus of the Barons’ Crusade in the early 1240s, and even in the 1250s, the Franks convinced Louis IX, king of France, who had already improved the defenses of Acre, Caesarea, and Jaffa as part of the Seventh Crusade (1248–54) to focus upon repairing Sidon, rather than attacking Jerusalem.137 Jerusalem and other interior regions were not a priority for the Franks in the early thirteenth century; rather, it was along the coast that the Franks focused their efforts and staked the survival of their realm. Though the Franks suffered another serious defeat at La Forbie in 1244, the formidable defenses of their coastal possessions discouraged the victorious Egyptian forces from committing to any sieges. The Egyptian army was left to ravage the countryside about Jaffa and Ascalon, but otherwise the Latin kingdom remained intact. La Forbie was a setback for the Franks, but there was no repeat of the catastrophic collapse that had followed Hattin.138 Ultimately, the benefit of the Latin kingdom’s coastal strategy can be seen in the considerable efforts required by the Mamelukes to capture these fortifications from the 1260s to the 1290s and finally eject the Franks from their coastal enclaves.139

(Hannover, 1912), pp. 66–69; Huillard-Breholles, Historia diplomatica Frederici Secundi, 3:102–10. 134 Powell, Anatomy, p. 160. 135 Richards, Ibn Al-Athir, 3:292. 136 Humphreys, From Saladin to the Mongols, p. 271 137 Raynaud, Gestes des Chiprois, pp. 122–24; Joinville, Histoire de Saint Louis, ed. M. Natalis de Wailly (Paris, 1868), pp. 184, 201, 210. 138 Berkovich, “La Forbie,” pp. 40–43. Despite their victory in 1244, it was not until 1247 that the Egyptians were able to capitalize upon their success with the capture of Tiberias and Ascalon. L’Estoire de Eracles, pp. 432–34. 139 The capture of the Frank’s fortifications in Syria and along the Palestinian coast required extensive preparations, manpower, and the use of artillery by the Mamelukes to achieve. Marshall, Warfare, pp. 223–36; Hugh Kennedy, Crusader Castles (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 108–09; Rabei G. Khamisy, “Baybars’ Strategy of War against the Franks,” Journal of Medieval Military History 16 (2018), 35–62.



Military Resources and Strategy of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem 127 Conclusion

Though the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem’s defeat at Hattin in 1187 had seen its borders significantly reduced, the early thirteenth-century kingdom was still able to muster an army comparable in size to its twelfth-century predecessor. Benefitting from its growing commercial prosperity, which helped offset its territorial losses, the crown and baronage of the Latin kingdom were able to assemble a force of 300–400 knights by the 1220s and retained access to a significant body of infantry for the kingdom’s defense. The Templars and Hospitallers recovered quickly from Hattin, while the establishment of the Teutonic Order provided a further substantial boost to the Latin kingdom’s defenses. By the 1240s, the Military Orders contributed 750 knights, if not more, towards the kingdom’s army. However, though the disunity of the kingdom’s opponents provided it with opportunities to recover lost territory, the Franks did not press their advantage, but rather adopted a more cautious strategy that did not imperil the security of the Latin kingdom. The kingdom’s coastal cities were increasingly fortified, battle was avoided in favor of raiding, and forces were only concentrated when the presence of a crusade favored success. The Franks, having lost their army and almost their entire kingdom in the wake of one decisive confrontation, adopted a strategy to avoid it happening again. This was not a strategy designed to defeat the Latin kingdom’s opponents, but a strategy intended to prolong its survival.

4 Philip II’s “Eye of Command” and the Battle of Bouvines1 Laurence W. Marvin

How individual commanders functioned strategically, operationally, and tactically remains an understudied aspect of war in the High Middle Ages. This article aims to redress that shortfall with an examination of how Philip Augustus of France, who is not typically regarded by modern historians as a great tactician, achieved a great tactical victory with large strategic implications at Bouvines in 1214, while contesting the view that the combat followed some sort of formalized rules or was simply a large-scale knightly duel. Philip’s decisive victory at Bouvines was not primarily the result of his tactical leadership, but rather of his long laying of the groundwork for success at the grand strategic, strategic, and operational levels. Fought on Sunday 27 July 1214, the battle of Bouvines has attracted a great deal of attention from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century.2 The battle’s 800th anniversary less than a decade ago drew renewed scrutiny to it as a 1

2

I thank Kelsey Rice for her comments on an earlier draft. I also express my gratitude to John France and Clifford J. Rogers for their generous advice, as well as Vincent Grégoire and Françoise Verrier for their help in acquiring materials. The inset quotation in the title of this article is from Kimberly Kagan, The Eye of Command (Ann Arbor, MI, 2006), pp. 198, 200. Dominique Barthélemy, La bataille de Bouvines. Histoire et légendes (Paris, 2018), pp. 517–27, contains an extensive list of the secondary literature in English, French, German, and Italian. Here I list a few landmark books or articles from the late nineteenth century up to now: Henri Delpech, La tactique au XIIIe siècle, 2 vols. (Paris, 1886), 1:1–175, 2:11–14; Gustav Köhler, Die Entwickelung des Kriegswesens und der Kriegführung in der Ritterzeit 1: Kriegsgeschichtliches von Mitte des II. bis Mitte des 13. Jahrhunderts, 3 vols. (Breslau, 1886), 1:117–58; Alexander Cartellieri, Die Schlacht bei Bouvines (27 Juli 1214), im Rahmen der europäischen Politik (Leipzig, 1914) and Philipp II August, König von Frankreich, vol. 4 (Leipzig, 1921), pp. 460–78; Ferdinand Lot, L’Art militaire et les armées au Moyen Âge en Europe et dans le Proche Orient, vol. 1 (Paris, 1946), pp. 223–35; Georges Duby, Le dimanche de Bouvines (Paris, 1973) and The Legend of Bouvines. War, Religion and Culture in the Middle Ages, trans. Catherine Tihanyi (Berkeley, CA, 1990); J. F. Verbruggen, “Le problème des effectifs et de la tactique à la bataille de Bouvines (1214),” Revue du Nord 124 (1949), 181–93 and The Art of Warfare in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. From the Eighth Century to 1340, 2nd ed., trans. Sumner Willard and Mrs. R. W. Southern (Woodbridge, 1997), pp. 239–60.

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historical and military event.3 The purpose of this article is not to rehash the background, circumstances, the numbers of men engaged, the outcome or impact of the battle but rather to draw attention to a still understudied aspect of war in the High Middle Ages: how an individual commander actually functioned strategically, operationally, and tactically.4 While we cannot know what Philip was actually thinking, it is possible to see how he arrived at his decision to offer battle on a Sunday more than eight hundred years ago. This article seeks to understand how Philip II, who is not typically regarded by modern historians as a great battlefield general, presided over a great tactical victory with strategic implications at Bouvines, while arguing against the stereotype

3

4

Barthélemy’s La bataille de Bouvines thoroughly analyzes the battle and its historiography. Tobias Weller, “In prima fronte belli. Philipp II. Und Otto IV. Auf dem Schlachtfeld von Bouvines,” in Der König al Krieger. Zum Verhältnis von Königtum und Krieg im Mittelalter, ed. Martin Clauss, Andrea Stieldorf, and Tobias Weller (Bamburg, 2015), pp. 185–221, also contains important discussion, especially in its depiction of Philip and Otto as tactical commanders and warriors during the battle. See also William Chester Jordan, “The French Victory at Bouvines (1214) and the Persistent Seduction of War,” in 1212– 1214: El trieno que hizo a Europa (Pamplona, 2011), pp. 113–28; John France, “The Battle of Bouvines 27 July 1214,” in The Medieval Way of War. Studies in Medieval Military History in Honor of Bernard S. Bachrach, ed. Gregory I. Halfond (Burlington, VT, 2015), pp. 251–57; Philippe Marchand and Françoise Verrier, ed., Bouvines 1214–2014: un lieu de mémoire. Actes des deux journées tenues à Lille, Genech et Bouvines les 17 et 18 mai 2014 (Lille, 2014), which includes twelve contributions, among them pieces by Dominique Barthélemy and John W. Baldwin; and Pierre Monnet, ed., Bouvines 1214–2014. Histoire et mémoire d’une bataille/Eine Schlacht zwischen Geschichte und Erinnerung. Approches et comparaisons franc-allemandes/Deutsch-französische Ansätze und Vergleiche (Bochum, 2016), which contains seven contributions, including one by Barthélemy. Doing this is not uncommon for other eras. See Peter Paret, ed., Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (Princeton, NJ, 1986) and Victor Davis Hanson, ed., Makers of Ancient Strategy. From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome (Princeton, NJ, 2010). Presently there is no comparable collection like this for the Middle Ages. Medievalists have, however, long considered strategic thinking and planning, such as John Gillingham’s seminal articles “Richard I and the Science of War in the Middle Ages,” in War and Government in the Middle Ages, ed. John Gillingham and J. C. Holt (Exeter, 1984), pp. 78–91 and “William the Bastard at War,” Studies in Medieval History Presented to R. Allen Brown, ed. Christopher Harper-Bill et al. (Woodbridge, 1989), pp. 141–58 and John France, “Thinking about Crusader Strategy,” in Noble Ideals and Bloody Realities. Warfare in the Middle Ages, ed. Niall Christie and Maya Yazigi (Leiden, 2006), pp. 75–96; Steve Tibble, The Crusader Strategy. Defending the Holy Land (New Haven, CT, 2020); David S. Bachrach, “Military Intelligence and Strategic Planning under the Ottonian Kings of Germany, 919–1024,” in Military Cultures and Martial Enterprises in the Middle Ages. Essays in Honour of Richard P. Abels, ed. John D. Hosler and Steven Isaac (Woodbridge, 2020), pp. 41–60, esp. pp. 54, 59–60; Jan Willem Honig, “Late Medieval Strategy: The Example of the 1415 Agincourt Campaign,” War in History 19 (2012), 123–51; and Clifford J. Rogers, “Henry V’s Military Strategy in 1415,” in The Hundred Years War: A Wider Focus, ed. L. J. Andrew Villalon and Donald J. Kagay (Leiden, 2005), pp. 399–428.



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that the combat followed some sort of formalized rules or was merely a largescale duel between armored mounted men.5 Philip II’s Grand Strategy In his early military career up through the Third Crusade and beyond, Philip often appeared outgeneraled by his Angevin contemporaries and primary opponents King Henry II and his son Richard I of England. While John Hosler has successfully defended Philip’s performance on the Third Crusade, back in France Philip never had much luck against Richard.6 After Richard’s death in 1199 Philip experienced far more success against Richard’s brother John, who was not the talented military commander Richard was.7 It should be noted that at Bouvines, however, Philip did not face the king of England directly but rather a coalition army headed by the emperor Otto of Brunswick, who was unknown as a commander to Philip. The showdown at Bouvines and Philip’s performance there flowed from the Capetian government’s pursuit of a grand strategic policy begun two generations before. Grand strategy involves investing a state’s political, economic, and diplomatic resources to attain long-term goals.8 Some scholars view grand strategy not simply as a modern phenomenon but also as something only large 5

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Jim Bradbury, Philip Augustus, King of France 1180–1223 (Harlow, 1998), p. 310. Bradbury says that Philip was “if not one of the great commanders of the Middle Ages, was at least a competent one.” On the battle’s strategic implications see Jordan, “French Victory at Bouvines,” pp. 117–19, 121, and John W. Baldwin and Walter Simons, “The Consequences of Bouvines,” French Historical Studies 37 (2014), 243–69. John Hosler, The Siege of Acre, 1189–1191. Saladin, Richard the Lionheart, and the Battle That Decided the Third Crusade (New Haven, CT, 2018), pp. 110, 112, 119–20; France, “The Battle of Bouvines,” p. 255. Ralph V. Turner, “King John’s Military Reputation Reconsidered,” Journal of Medieval History 19 (1993), 171–200; Jim Bradbury, “Philip Augustus and King John: Personality and History,” in King John. New Interpretations, ed. S. D. Church (Woodbridge, 1999), pp. 347–61, esp. pp. 348–50, 355–57; Martin Aurell, “Philippe Auguste et les Plantagenêt,” in Autour de Philippe Auguste, ed. Martin Aurell and Yves Sassier (Paris, 2017), pp. 27–70, esp. pp. 62–63; Robert-Henri Bautier, “La personnalité de Philippe Auguste,” in La France de Philippe Auguste. Le temps des mutations, ed. Robert-Henri Bautier (Paris, 1982), pp. 33–57, esp. p. 39; John W. Baldwin, Knights, Lords, and Ladies. In Search of Aristocrats in the Paris Region, 1180–1220 (Philadelphia, PA, 2019), pp. 116–17. Perhaps more accurately John resembled Philip in that neither was a great battlefield general, but both were competent at strategy and operations. Turner does a good job in rehabilitating John’s strategic thinking even if he does not always convince. B. H. Liddell Hart, Strategy, 2nd ed. (London, 1967), p. 322; Williamson Murray, “Thoughts on Grand Strategy,” in The Shaping of Grand Strategy. Policy, Diplomacy and War, ed. Williamson Murray, Richard Hart Sinnreich, and James Lacey (Cambridge, 2011), pp. 1–33, esp. p. 5; Edward N. Luttwak, Strategy. The Logic of War & Peace, rev. ed. (Cambridge, MA, 2001), pp. 267–69; John Lewis Gaddis, On Grand Strategy (New York, 2018), p. 21. Gaddis defines grand strategy as “the alignment of potentially unlimited aspirations with necessarily limited capabilities.”

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states can pursue.9 It is true that the concept of “grand strategy” was only articulated in the recent past.10 Yet even if the expression is new, undoubtedly many states or their leaders in the High Middle Ages had a grand strategy. Any state or leader who pursued long-term objectives reflected a grand strategy, even if the state or ruler did not call it that, or even have a name for it, as is well understood for other eras.11 Without question Philip Augustus had a grand strategy, one he inherited from his grandfather and father and then built upon. This was the consolidation, stabilization, and augmentation of the Capetian patrimony of the Île-de-France and the exercise of strong suzerainty or actual sovereignty over as many parts of the Regnum Francorum as possible.12 This consistent, multigenerational Capetian grand strategy centered around the belief that the Anglo-Norman monarchs, who controlled vast swaths of Frankia ostensibly as the French monarchy’s vassals, were the Capetians’ most dangerous rivals, even if at times other serious threats arose, such as Emperor Henry V’s abortive invasion of 1124 and ongoing tensions in Flanders.13 The Anglo-Norman monarchs’ continued control over substantial portions of Frankia impeded their nominal overlords’ ability to rule effectively, so Capetian grand strategy up to and including Philip Augustus congealed around gaining leverage on the continent over the English monarchs. In the early twelfth century Louis VI had used direct approaches against his Anglo-Norman rival Henry I to achieve this but lost at contests such as Brémule.14 His son Louis VII adopted a 9

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Murray, “Thoughts on Grand Strategy,” p. 1. Given Murray’s modernist bias, early thirteenth-century Capetian France would not meet the qualification as either a “large or medium” state and therefore its leader could not have a grand strategy. Beatrice Heuser, The Evolution of Strategy. Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge, 2010), pp. 9, 29. Paul Anthony Rahe, Sparta’s Second Attic War: The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta, 446–418 BC (New Haven, CT, 2020), pp. xv–xvi; Edward Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire. From the First Century A.D. to the Third (Baltimore, MD, 1976), and The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire (Cambridge, MA, 2009), pp. 12–14, 412–15; Susan P. Mattern, Rome and the Enemy. Imperial Strategy in the Principate (Berkeley, CA, 1999), pp. 81–82, which functions as an essential corrective to Luttwak’s earlier work; John P. LeDonne, The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650–1831 (Oxford and New York, 2004), pp. 5–7, 219–20. Jacques Boussard, “Philippe Auguste et les Plantagenêts,” in La France de Philippe Auguste, pp. 263–89, esp. pp. 263–64, 287; Baldwin, Knights, Lords, and Ladies, pp. 3–4; Baldwin and Simons, “Consequences of Bouvines,” p. 243; Robert Fawtier, The Capetian Kings of France. Monarchy & Nation (987–1328), trans. Lionel Butler and R. J. Adam (London, 1962), pp. 162, 167. As Baldwin noted, the term “Île-de-France” is not a geographical expression thirteenth-century people would have understood, but medievalists have used it for more than a century to refer to the region around Paris. Suger, Deeds of Louis the Fat, trans. Richard Cusimano and John Moorhead (Washington, DC, 1992), pp. 127–31; Barthélemy, La bataille de Bouvines, pp. 23–35. It should be noted that Henry V was married to Matilda, the son of Henry I, king of the English. Stephen Morillo, “Kings and Fortuna: The Meanings of Brémule,” in Military Cultures and Martial Enterprises in the Middle Ages, pp. 99–116, esp. pp. 101–03, 107–09; Matthew Strickland, “Henry I and the Battle of the Two Kings: Brémule, 1119,” in Normandy and



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more successful, albeit more indirect scheme, by turning Henry II’s sons against him. At times this resulted in temporary successes such as the 1173 rebellion of Henry’s sons, though that strategy ultimately ended in failure.15 Philip Augustus continued the Capetian grand strategy, initially through indirect approaches. He first tried to turn Richard and John against each other; then after John became king, John against his nephew Arthur.16 Finally, by insisting on his rights as feudal lord over John as duke of Normandy, Philip boxed John into a legal cage of either acknowledging Capetian suzerainty by doing homage in Paris or risking violating his feudal obligations and forfeiting his fiefs. When John eventually refused to be constrained in this way, Philip was legally justified in confiscating John’s continental holdings and proceeded to besiege and take them.17 Thus much of the Capetian grand strategic vision came to fruition when Philip successfully deprived John of many of his most important continental territories by 1204. Philip II’s Strategy The edges blur for what separates “grand strategy” from mere “strategy.”18 “Strategy” might be defined as the plans by which states or leaders achieve political objectives, most often through military means.19 Political leaders facilitate and accomplish strategy in a variety of ways: the preparation for war and deciding on the kind of war one wishes to fight, or by planning to fight little or not at all.20 In any case, good strategists make conditions as advantageous to themselves as possible, and the opposite for their opponents. John had vowed to return to the continent after earlier losses in 1203 and had signaled his intent

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Its Neighbours, 900–1250. Essays for David Bates, ed. David Crouch and Kathleen Thompsen. (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 77–116, esp. pp. 82–85, 102–03. Martin Aurell, “Political Culture and Medieval Historiography: The Revolt against King Henry II, 1173–1174,” History 102 (2017), 752–71, esp. pp. 755–56, analyzes the primary source material for this rebellion; see also Matthew Strickland, Henry the Young King, 1155–1183 (New Haven, CT, 2016), pp. 202-05 and Steven Isaac, “Cowardice and Fear Management: The 1173–74 Conflict as a Case Study,” The Journal of Medieval Military History 4 (2006), 50–64. John Gillingham, The Angevin Empire, 2nd ed. (London, 2001), p. 36. Ralph of Coggeshall, Chronicon Anglicanum, Rolls Series 66, ed. Joseph Stevenson (London, 1875), pp. 135–36; Rigord, Histoire de Philippe Auguste, ed. and trans. Élisabeth Carpentier, Georges Pon and Yves Chauvin (Paris, 2006), pp. 370–73, 384–93; Maurice Powicke, The Loss of Normandy 1189–1204. Studies in the History of the Angevin Empire, 2nd ed. (Manchester, 1960), pp. 79–80, 133–35, 158–59; Gillingham, Angevin Empire, pp. 88–92. See also Daniel Power, The Norman Frontier in the Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Centuries (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 111–12. Power notes that this was a relatively new strategy on the part of the Capetian monarchy as feudal overlords. Heuser, Evolution of Strategy, p. 27. Heuser, Evolution of Strategy, pp. 27–28. Liddell Hart, Strategy, p. 324; Williamson Murray, MacGregor Knox, and Alvin Bernstein, ed., The Making of Strategy. Rulers, States, and War (Cambridge, 1994), p. 1.

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by 1212.21 Thus he remained a significant threat and consequently Philip had to plan strategically if John made active moves to do so. Even before the Capetian conquest in 1203–04 and continuing up to Bouvines, Philip laid the strategic conditions for war against the king of England. First, he continued to exercise careful management and fiscal restraint against the time that cash would have to be produced and expended quickly in the event of war. The acquisition of lands from John added immensely to his budget.22 Second, Philip had a good idea of the forces he could count on in wartime. Unlike his father and grandfather, who were skeptical about giving urban communities some autonomy, Philip had, since the 1190s, liberally granted charters of customs, liberties or commune status to many northern French towns and cities in exchange for formal military obligations.23 This strategy of building loyalty through concession paid big dividends at Bouvines.24 Each town, however, negotiated with Philip over its military commitments, and consequently these obligations ranged considerably. The militia of some towns did not have to serve the king beyond a one day’s march from the town, while at least one had to send three hundred well-equipped infantrymen whenever and wherever the king wished them.25 Although Philip’s government kept precise records of how many men each town owed or their financial obligation in time of war, the lack of uniformity among dozens of towns must have made strategic and operational planning problematic and frustrating, though certainly not impossible.26 Besides his towns, the king also made lists of fief-holders who owed him 21

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Roger of Wendover, Flores Historiarum, vol. 1, Rolls Series 84, ed. Henry G. Hewlett (London, 1886), p. 317 (hereafter abbreviated as RW); Weller, “In prima fronte belli,” p. 191. John Baldwin, The Government of Philip Augustus (Berkeley, CA, 1986), p. 258. Baldwin, Government, pp. 60–64; Baldwin, Knights, Lords, and Ladies, pp. 101–16; Charles Petit-Dutaillis, The French Communes in the Middle Ages, trans. Joan Vickers (Amsterdam, 1978), p. 51; Albert Vermeesch. Essai sur les origines et la signification de la commune dans le Nord de la France (XIe et XIIe siècles) (Heule, 1966), p. 131. Robert-Henri Bautier, “Le règne de Philippe Auguste dans l’histoire de France,” in La France de Philippe Auguste, pp. 23–24; Louis Carolus-Barré, “Philippe Auguste et les villes de commune,” in La France de Philippe Auguste, pp. 677–88, esp. pp. 682–83; Steven Isaac, “The Role of Towns in the Battle of Bouvines (1214),” The Journal of Military History 79/2 (2015), 317–44, esp. p. 344. Charter of the Liberties of Lorris, in The High Middle Ages, ed. Bryce D. Lyon (New York, 1964), p. 58; Recueil des actes de Louis VI roi de France, vol. 2, ed. Robert-Henri Bautier (Paris, 1992), pp. 356–57; Recueil des actes de Philippe Auguste roi de France, vol. 1, ed. H-Fr. Delaborde, C. Petit-Dutaillis et al. (Paris, 1916–66), pp. 273–74; PetitDutaillis, French Communes, pp. 72–73; Paul Rolland, Les Origines de la commune de Tournai. Histoire interne de la seigneurie épiscopale tournaisienne (Brussels, 1931), pp. 231–33. The Charter of Lorris was first composed in Louis VI’s reign, confirmed by his son Louis VII, and reconfirmed by his grandson Philip in 1187. It was used as a boilerplate charter for many towns. Les Registres de Philippe Auguste. Recueil des historiens de la France. Documents financiers et administratifs. Tome VII vol. I, ed. John W. Baldwin, Françoise Gasparri, Michel Nortier, and Elisabeth Lalou (Paris, 1992), pp. 259–62.



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military service, so theoretically he knew how many bannerets, their retinues, and individual knights he could count on in time of war.27 He also had a small paid army he could use for various tasks.28 Working within the confines of this system Philip maintained a flexible strategy for dealing with a serious threat long prior to Bouvines.29 By 1213 Philip’s conquest of Normandy and much of Anjou was almost a decade in the past. He had no pressing need to take the strategic offensive against John between 1204 and 1213, though keeping John at bay across the English Channel remained a desirable goal. In 1213 Philip raided parts of Flanders and gathered a fleet to invade England as a way of staving off John’s potential return to the continent. The ravaging of Flanders backfired, however. By destroying property and lives Philip brought more enemies out against him. This possible invasion of England, at least for 1213, fell victim to a variety of factors: John took the cross, he made England a papal fief, and Philip’s fleet was destroyed at Damme.30 In 1214, when John finally decided to return to the continent with the support of a coalition of allies, Philip faced invasion from two directions. The French king could have chosen a defensive strategy of exhaustion, forcing John and his allies to expend time and resources to besiege easily defended castles and fortifications. Allowing his lands to be ravaged and towns besieged, however, would have severely undermined confidence in his authority, so Philip responded to the challenge in a more active way. Philip II’s Campaign or Operational Strategy Below the strategic level and above the tactical one lie campaigns and operations. Edward Luttwak defines operations as “the middle level of thought and action between the tactical and the strategic.”31 Or, campaigns and operations 27

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Les Registres de Philippe Auguste Tome VII I, registers A–F, pp. 265–324; Baldwin, Government, pp. 279–85 and Knights, Lords, and Ladies, pp. 10–11, 101–07, 112–14. Baldwin noted that these lists are incomplete, and do not list the service owed by the great barons of France. Nonetheless, the lists provided a rough minimum for Philip. Edouard Audouin, Essai sur l’armée royale au temps de Philippe Auguste (Paris, 1913), p. 121; Baldwin, Knights, Lords, and Ladies, pp. 115, 117. Philippe Contamine, “L’Armée de Philippe Auguste,” in La France de Philippe Auguste, p. 593, and “De Philippe Auguste à Philippe le Bel. La paix du roi,” in Histoire militaire de la France 1/ Des Origines a 1715, ed. André Corvisier (Paris, 1992), pp. 77–106, esp. p. 96. William the Breton, Gesta Philippi Augusti, ed. H. François Delaborde (Paris, 1882), pp. 249–52, hereafter abbreviated as WB; RW, Flores 2, pp. 76–80; The Annals of Dunstable Priory, ed. Harriett R. Webster and trans. David Preest (Woodbridge, 2018), p. 13; ex Annalibus Gemmeticensibus, MGH SS 26, ed. G. Waitz (Hanover, 1882), p. 510; History of William the Marshal, ed. A. J. Holden, trans. S. Gregory, with notes by D. Crouch (London, 2004), pp. 230–33. Bautier, “La personnalité,” p. 40, suggests Philip’s impulsive side when the king made the decision to invade England. Luttwak, Strategy, p. 112. Luttwak claims to have introduced, though not invented, the concept.

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are what a commander or government might plan to achieve in a season or year militarily.32 In 1214 Philip’s operational objective was to hold on rather than to acquire, but he stood in danger of alienating those depending on him as their sovereign or suzerain if he refused to go to their aid when the coalition army invaded. To take back his continental possessions John had prepared his own operational strategy by courting military allies like the emperor Otto to split a concentrated Capetian response, defeat Philip’s army, and threaten Paris.33 Operating from the west, John threatened the Loire Valley while Otto moved from the north-east with his own army plus contingents from many Flemish nobles and towns. Philip had to devise an appropriate operational response to this two-pronged attack. The English chronicler Roger of Wendover suggests Philip well understood both the enormity of the task and how difficult it was to plan against it, by having the king recite a proverb that all so-called multitaskers should remember: “the mind occupied by many things has difficulty concentrating on just one.”34 Philip could not be in two places of course, nor could he easily communicate with or attempt to direct a geographically distant force, a problem that plagued all commanders until the invention of the telegraph in the nineteenth century. Operationally Philip had to take a gamble, or, more accurately, two. One, he had to decide which threat required his direct presence, and two, he had to place considerable trust in the talents of the leader commanding the separate army. For the force he could not command he chose the one person who had as much at stake as Philip did himself: his son and heir, the still youthful twenty-six-year-old Louis. To guide and advise the prince Philip sent along one of his most experienced marshals, Henry Clement.35 To oppose John in the west Philip dispatched Louis with a significant force of 800 knights, and perhaps several thousand other troops.36 Beyond that Philip 32

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ADP 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC, 2019), pp. 1–9. Current US military doctrine makes a distinction between campaigns and operations. A “campaign” is defined as: “a series of related major operations aimed at achieving strategic and operational objectives within a given time and space.” An “operation” is “is a sequence of tactical actions with a common purpose or unifying theme.” Turner, “King John’s,” pp. 190–92; John W. Baldwin, “Bouvines, à l’échelle européenne (1214–1314),” pp. 38–54, esp. p. 40, in Marchand and Verrier, Bouvines 1214–2014, and “Crown and Government,” in The New Cambridge Medieval History IV part 2, ed. David Luscombe and Jonathan Riley-Smith (Cambridge, 2004), pp. 510–29, esp. p. 526. RW, Flores 2, p. 106; Georges Duby, Legend of Bouvines, p. 206. This is an idiomatic translation of: “Pluribus intentus minor est ad singula sensus.” The proverb was certainly not unique to Roger of Wendover. WB, pp. 264–65; “Extrait d’une chronique française des rois de France, par un anonyme de Béthune,” ed. Léopold Delisle, in Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France 24.1 (Paris, 1904), pp. 750–75, esp. p. 767; Baldwin, Government, p. 113; Martin Aurell, “La bataille de la Roche-aux-Moines: Jean Sans Terre et la prétendue traîtrise des poitevins,” Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 161 (2017), 459–89, esp. p. 467. Henry died soon after. Baldwin suggests it was perhaps from wounds sustained in some of the skirmishing as Louis’ forces relieved the garrison at La Roche-aux-Moine. William the Breton, Philippide, ed. H.-François Delaborde (Paris, 1885), pp. 286, 289; Lot,



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could do nothing to modify one half of his operational plan once its execution began. He did not have to worry long, however. As luck would have it, John’s army became bogged down in what looked like it might become a protracted siege at La Roche-aux-Moines. When Louis’ force arrived to relieve the garrison, the threat of battle caused the defection of John’s wavering Poitevin allies.37 Shortly afterwards John abandoned the siege, his equipment, and his baggage, and departed for La Rochelle, thus neutralizing half of the English king’s own operational strategy for the season.38 The result was a great boon for Philip’s fortunes, even if the forces he had sent there remained unavailable to him by the time he experienced his own critical moment later in the month.39 Philip II’s Tactics and His “Eye of Command” Thus, we enter the realm of tactics. In most respects Philip was a mediocre and unlucky battlefield general. During the 1190s Richard consistently bested and humiliated Philip in direct confrontations. Richard gleaned the glory of commanding the army of the Third Crusade after Philip’s departure, while contemporary and modern authors have widely criticized Philip for not remaining in the Holy Land and for moving quickly against Richard’s lands when he came back to Frankia.40 After Richard’s return from captivity, Richard beat Philip so badly on the field at Fréteval in 1194 that he overran and captured Philip’s baggage train, treasure, and governmental documents, a cause of regret for historians ever since.41 In 1198 as Philip raced towards Gisors after Richard had trounced him yet again, the crush of men on the bridge there caused it to collapse, throwing Philip in armor and his horse and many others into the river. Philip had to be fished out, and lost many men captured.42 These humiliations

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L’Art Militaire, p. 225; Verbruggen, Art of Warfare, p. 242; France, “Battle of Bouvines,” p. 257; Aurell, “La bataille de la Roche-aux-Moines,” pp. 466, 469–70; Barthélemy, Bataille de Bouvines, p. 92. The number of 800 knights is the consensus among scholars based on documentary evidence, though Aurell suggests a higher number of knights: 1,200. The other numbers reported by William, 2,000 horse sergeants and 7,000 infantry, seem inexplicably high based on the theoretical maximum Philip could draw on from the lands he controlled directly in the Regnum Francorum. Aurell, “La bataille de la Roche-aux-Moines,” pp. 470–73. WB, p. 264; Philippide X, p. 294; RW, Flores 2: 105; Catherine Hanley, Louis. The French Prince who Invaded England (New Haven, CT, 2016), p. 56; Gérard Sivéry, Louis VIII le Lion (Paris, 1995), pp. 121–23; Charles Petit-Dutaillis, Étude sur la vie et le règne de Louis VIII (1187–1226) (Paris, 1894), pp. 49–50. Baldwin, Government, p. 214, makes this point clear. See Hosler, Siege of Acre, pp. 140–41, for a recent assessment. Ralph of Diceto, Ymagines historiarum, Rolls Series 68.2, ed. William Stubbs (London, 1876), p. 117; Rigord, Histoire, pp. 330–31. Roger de Hoveden, Chronica, Rolls Series 51.4, ed. William Stubbs (London, 1871), pp. 55–60; Ralph of Coggeshall, Chronicon Anglicanum, Rolls Series 66, ed. Joseph Stevenson, (London, 1875), pp. 83–85; Ralph of Diceto, Ymagines, p. 164; RW, Flores 1: 278–79; Rigord, Histoire, pp. 352–55; History of William Marshal 2, pp. 47–53.

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notwithstanding, by 1214 Richard was long gone and as monarch for almost thirty-five years Philip was as experienced in warfare as he was going to get. His wise choice of men to serve at his court over the years gave him some good subordinate commanders at Bouvines, notably Brother Guérin, Knight Hospitaller and bishop-elect of Senlis.43 On the battlefield Philip was not a risk-taker like some of his contemporaries, such as Simon of Montfort and Peter of Aragon, though he could be impulsive and was not above using ruses to provoke or avoid a battle.44 At Bouvines, however, it was only at the last minute that he decided to hazard it all, including his own life. Philip ultimately chose to fight at Bouvines in what appears to be a snap judgment based on the advice of one person, Guérin. No matter how much one pursued a grand strategy, planned a sensible strategy to obtain the grand strategic goals, or carried out careful operations, the tactical level required quick but careful thinking before committing to combat. Battles could often be too decisive, hence why so few were fought in this period, especially when it was so easy for a weaker side to defend themselves via fortifications. Defensive siege warfare was the most prudent tactic, though raiding could also be effective. Any general of the era who sought a battle of annihilation was seeking God’s judgment.45 Before engaging in battle, a commander of this era had to address at least four questions: First: where is the enemy? Second: should he engage? Third: how does one deploy the army? Fourth: where should the commander station himself? Beyond these four questions, the general had to consider other factors in his decision-making process, including but not limited to the weather, the season, how tired he was, the condition of his army and even the day of the week. To take the four questions in turn for Philip at Bouvines: First: where is the enemy? Until and even beyond the advent of line-ofsight non-visual communications like the telegraph and the radio, commanders 43

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Xavier Hélary, “Ceux qui n’auraient pas dû y être: quelques combattants de la bataille de Bouvines,” in Bouvines 1214–2014, ed. Monnet, pp. 19–28, esp. pp. 21–22; France, “Battle of Bouvines,” p. 258; John France, Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000–1300 (Ithaca, NY, 1999), p. 142; Baldwin, Government, pp. 115–18, and “The Case of Philip Augustus,” Viator 19 (1988), 195–207, esp. pp. 199–200. Bautier, “La personnalité,” p. 40; Matthew Strickland, “Provoking or Avoiding Battle? Challenge, Duel and Single Combat in Warfare of the High Middle Ages,” in Armies, Chivalry and Warfare in Medieval Britain and France, ed. Matthew Strickland (Stamford, 1998), pp. 317–43, esp. pp. 326–27. David Whetham, Just Wars and Moral Victories. Surprise, Deception and the Normative Framework of European War in the Later Middle Ages (Leiden, 2009), pp. 106–07; Clifford J. Rogers, “The Vegetian ‘Science of Warfare’ in the Middle Ages,” The Journal of Medieval Military History 1 (2002), 1–19, esp. pp. 5, 13, 19; Stephen Morillo, “Battle Seeking: The Contexts and Limits of Vegetian Strategy,” The Journal of Medieval Military History 1 (2002), 21–41, esp. pp. 25–29; Gillingham, “Richard I and the Science of War,” pp. 81, 90–91; Duby, Legend, p. 112; Honig, “Late Medieval Strategy,” pp. 123–29, 149–51. Honig argues against a “binary” view, noting that commanders might seek or avoid battle for a multitude of reasons.



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remained dependent on what they could see for themselves or on what others they trusted (and sometimes those they did not) had seen.46 Even if a reliable observer viewed an obviously stationary, encamped army, this did not guarantee that by the time the information got to the observer’s commander that the army was still in the same place. In the days before Bouvines Philip’s and Otto’s armies had bypassed each other. Philip ended up at Tournai while Otto was at Mortagne almost directly south.47 Depending on their subsequent moves, they stood to cut each other off. In the previous days Philip had contemplated fighting Otto on the field but his barons advised against it and so it was that on Sunday, 27 July, Philip’s army marched westward, towards Lille, with the eventual intention of raiding into Hainaut.48 Otto heard that Philip was headed to Lille and began to march after him although Philip remained unaware of this. The constituent units of the French army, undoubtedly marching at different paces, became strung out along the line of march. Many of the communal militia units had passed west of the bridge at Bouvines. This is where relying on what others observed, and deciding what to do with this intelligence, played a key role for Philip. Guérin and a few nobles, including Adam, viscount of Melun, other knights, mounted sergeants, and crossbowmen, rode to a hill about three miles east of their army, where they spotted Otto’s men marching quickly from the south. Guérin rode back to the king to tell him the news while the viscount of Melun and the men with him remained behind.49 Philip now had an answer for question one. Second: should he engage? Philip ordered a halt to decide what to do. While most of his infantry was west of the bridge, the king and many of his mounted units remained east of it. It really made no sense for him to stand and fight unless all the circumstances favored him, and they certainly did not. He could likely outrun the coalition forces. After all, if during the campaign, Philip lost no towns or territory, and the season ended, he won. If he were defeated in battle, he might lose everything. Besides, it was Sunday, symbolically a bad day for a battle.50 After the halt Philip consulted with his subordinate commanders, the barons of his army, about what to do. All those present but one advised against a battle at this time because the consensus believed Otto’s army appeared to be moving towards Tournai, away from them, rather than marching towards them. Guérin, who had actually seen Otto’s forces, sensed something different. He had observed Otto’s army marching as if to fight: with infantry in the front, and

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Gary B. Griffin, The Directed Telescope: A Traditional Element of Effective Command (Leavenworth, 1991), pp. 1–2, 13–14. As Griffin notes, information gained via the telegraph got more unreliable the closer one got to the tactical level of the battlefield, and one could argue the same for the radio. WB, pp. 266–67; Duby, Legend, pp. 37–38. WB, p. 267; Duby, Legend, p. 38; “Extrait,” p. 768, and in Duby, Legend, p. 194. WB, pp. 267–68, 270. “Extrait,” p. 768, and Duby, Legend, p. 194; Weller, “In prima fronte belli,” p. 200.

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banners unfurled.51 Guérin strongly advised that the king do the opposite: turn and fight. The others outvoted Guérin and the march continued.52 Those accompanying Philip got to the bridge at Bouvines, where everything halted at the bottleneck of the bridge as units bunched up to wait their turn to cross it. A camp had already been set up west of the river, including the king’s own tents.53 While he waited to cross Philip rested under a tree near the bridge and ate some lunch.54 Shortly afterwards, parties of knights and horse archers under the viscount of Melun, who had made the reconnaissance with Guérin, appeared.55 They carried the news that Otto’s forward units were close on their heels, thus confirming Guérin’s intuition.56 Philip finally had to decide whether to continue towards Lille, or turn and fight on a Sunday. After entering the church near the bridge to offer a short prayer and to strengthen his resolve, the king made his decision: he gambled that Otto expected him to run. So, he did the opposite.57 Thus he answered question two: He would fight. Third: how should he deploy the army? Philip’s army had been marching away from Otto’s forces. The urban militias and many mounted men had passed the chokepoint of the bridge. Once the king committed to stand and fight, he had to form his units quickly to meet the allied forces. He gave orders recalling all units west of the river, according to the Anonymous of Béthune, “wisely and assuredly with no fear.”58 Getting the word passed, then having all units turn around, march east to the bridge and through its bottleneck would, however, take time. In fact, the Oriflamme, the battle standard of the kings of the French, was not with Philip but west of the river in what had been the front of the army, now suddenly become the rear once Philip sounded the recall. After he made his decision to fight Philip had to act quickly. He did not wait to deploy all of his army properly but rode east with what he had to confront Otto’s forces.59 As mounted units and infantry streamed back, Philip made his dispositions. Those still east of the bridge when the recall began were easily deployed in the open fields. The king had them spread out, with their backs to the sun. The French formed in three large units, the farthest right and closest to the oncoming enemy led by Guérin. The king commanded the center. The combat began with Guérin’s unit.60 Therefore Philip answered question three, how to deploy the army, as best he could, given the short time he had to prepare.

51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

WB, pp. 267–68; Duby, Legend, p. 38; France, Western Warfare, p. 237. WB, p. 269; Duby, Legend, p. 39; Barthélemy, Bataille de Bouvines, pp. 104–05. “Extrait,” p. 768, and Duby, Legend, p. 195. WB, pp. 269–70; “Extrait,” p. 768 and Duby, Legend, p. 194; Tales of a Minstrel of Reims in the Thirteenth Century, trans. Samuel N. Rosenberg (Washington, DC, 2022), p. 120. WB, p. 270, Duby, Legend, p. 39. WB, p. 270; Duby, Legend, p. 39. “Extrait,” p. 768 and Duby, Legend, p. 194. “Extrait,” p. 768 and Duby, Legend, p. 194. WB, pp. 270–71; Duby, Legend, p. 39. WB, pp. 272–75.



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Four: where should the general station himself? The answer was of the utmost importance because once a battle began its swiftness and fluidity meant the commander quickly lost his ability to direct his troops. In other words, once it commenced the commander could do very little unless he stayed out of the fray, and that was not really a viable option. If he sought God’s judgment, he had to take commensurate risks with his soldiers. Battle meant that, unless everything went his way, at a certain point the commander jeopardized his own personal safety. Despite an almost certain loss of control over the entire battlefield, generals of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries actively participated in battles, though it was understood that most of the time they would not advance in the first rank. The commander-in-chief often led the third line, using it as a tactical reserve, as king Stephen did at the battle of Lincoln in 1141, where he stood in the third line consisting of dismounted knights.61 This was not always observed, as at earlier battles like Brémule where both Louis VI and Henry I rode or sat in the second line.62 No firm conventions prevailed about where the commander should place himself; only weak custom that the king or commander-in-chief ought not to be in the initial line. Since commanders frequently disregarded that custom, in the fluidity and uncertainty of combat they automatically risked life and limb. Although Philip had resolved to participate personally, recent cautionary examples revealed the hazards of doing so. Less than a year earlier, at another pitched battle, Muret, fought a few hundred miles to the south in Languedoc, both commanders gambled everything by personally participating. At Muret, Simon of Montfort had ridden into battle commanding his third line of horsemen as a tactical reserve but eventually committed this reserve and himself to the combat. In the scrum of battle, he broke a stirrup leather and engaged in fisticuffs with an enemy knight. His opponent, King Peter II of Aragon, stood in the second line of his horsemen, allegedly against custom, and was killed.63 Decades after Muret, one medieval commander drew an obvious and sensible conclusion from it. That commander was Peter’s son, James I, “the Conqueror.” In his memoirs, James, an extremely successful leader himself, wrote that “in battle the king ought to be in the rearguard,” perhaps ever mindful of what had happened to his father.64 61

62 63

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Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum, Rolls Series 74, ed. Thomas Arnold (London, 1879), p. 241, and The History of the English People 1000–1154, trans. Diana Greenway (New York, 2002), p. 78; Verbruggen, Art of Warfare, pp. 217–21. Henry of Huntingdon, Historia Anglorum, p. 241, and History of the English People, pp. 54–55; Morillo, “Kings and Fortuna,” pp. 106–07. Peter les Vaux-de-Cernay, Hystoria Albigensis, ed. Pascal Guébin and Ernest Lyon (Paris, 1930), pp. 153–54 and The History of the Albigensian Crusade, trans. W. A. and M. D. Sibly (Woodbridge, 1998), pp. 211–12; William of Tudela and an Anonymous Successor, Song of the Cathar Wars, trans. Janet Shirley (Brookfield, MA, 1996), p. 70; William of Puylaurens, The Chronicle of William of Puylaurens, trans. W. A. and M. D. Sibly (Woodbridge, 2003), p. 48. James I, The Book of Deeds of James I of Aragon. A Translation of the Medieval Catalan

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Providing a comprehensive account of the battle at Bouvines need not detain us here because so many detailed ones exist already.65 Though stationed in three separate formations or “battles,” the French were not subdivided into three distinct lines or echelons as would be optimum because there had been insufficient time to deploy them. Philip decided to set the example for his men in the most visible way, by stationing himself and his royal standard of the Fleur-de-lis in the front line of his army in the center unit.66 Though rash, the king’s move nonplussed the allied forces still forming and showed he meant business. This was an all-or-nothing moment, indicating the great personal risk he was willing to take.67 It also meant of course, that his ability to control the flow of events on the field dropped nearly to zero. As it happened, his decision to stand in the first line almost cost Philip his life. In the battle’s initial stages, in fact, the king had virtually no impact on it. Guérin’s unit of many different mounted contingents stood to Philip’s right and faced the allied army first. William the Breton’s account provides a surprising amount of detail about Guérin’s own tactical thinking and actions, including the Hospitaller’s admonition to his men to avoid being surrounded by the enemy, and not to bunch up, but rather to present the widest front possible. Though the sources differ on who gave the command that initiated contact, it appears that Guérin, not Philip, ordered a unit of horse sergeants forward to begin the battle.68 These precise instructions and commands are relayed to us by William, an eyewitness and the major chronicler of the battle. Yet William’s account of what Guérin said to his own unit or to the horse sergeants must also be treated with some skepticism, because the chronicler was not close by when Guérin gave the orders. He was stationed in Philip’s unit, somewhere to the rear of the king, and thus would have been unlikely to hear Guérin’s commands. In fact, at best Guerin’s directives must have been provided to William only after the battle was over.69

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66 67

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Llibre dels fets, trans. Damian Smith and Helena Buffery (Burlington, VT, 2003), p. 314. James believed that kings ought to be first to set up camp at sieges, but sieges typically took time to resolve, unlike the immediacy of combat. Barthélemy, Bataille de Bouvines, pp. 102–31; France, “Battle of Bouvines,” pp. 251–71; Sean McGlynn, Blood Cries Afar. The Forgotten Invasion of England 1216 (Stroud, 2013), pp. 102–22; Verbruggen, Art of Warfare, pp. 239–60. These titles merely represent more recent accounts of the battle. WB, pp. 272, 281. WB, pp. 271–72; Duby, Legend, pp. 39, 119; Weller, “In prima fronte belli,” pp. 202, 205. Though he emphasizes an earlier period, Isaac, “Cowardice and Fear Management,” pp. 62–64, suggests some things equally applicable to Philip’s choice at Bouvines. WB, pp. 276–77; “Extrait,” p. 768; Duby, Legend, pp. 41–42; Weller, “In prima fronte belli,” pp. 207–08; Dominique Barthélemy, “Sergents et communes à la bataille de Bouvines,” in Bouvines 1214–2014, ed. Monnet, pp. 29–54, esp. 34–35, 47. The author of the “Extrait” says Philip gave the order to the horse sergeants, whereas William the Breton says Guérin did so, acting on advice given to him by Gaucher, count of Saint-Pol. Based on William’s proximity and the specificity of his description, it seems likely that Guérin gave the order rather than the king. WB, p. 273; Duby, Legend, p. 40.



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The Oriflamme, carried by a knight, eventually made it to the French center, close to where the king sat on horseback along with the rest of the mounted front line. Meanwhile communal militia units made their way back across the bridge, force-marching from more than three miles away. They marched in front of the center, between Philip’s unit and the approaching coalition army.70 The emperor Otto’s own unit, composed of horse and foot, with Otto in the center, made its way towards where the Oriflamme, Fleur-de-lis, and Philip were. Before the French urban militias between Philip and Otto could change from a marching formation to a more effective battle one, Otto’s men struck. Therefore, Philip’s first direct participation at the battle of Bouvines occurred as his urban militiamen broke and retreated into and through his own lines of horsemen.71 There was nothing he could do to stop it; for the moment his own ability to command ceased to exist. As Otto’s force advanced, some French knights and nobles, specifically tasked with protecting the king, moved ahead to put themselves between the king and Otto’s advancing men. In the confusion, however, some of Otto’s infantry made their way around the French lines and with hooks or halberds dragged the king from his horse and tried to punch through or find a hole in his armor. They would have killed him were it not for the quality of his armor and that some of his bodyguard finally became aware of what had happened and rode back to slay or drive them off.72 Philip’s mounted unit and the urban militia stabilized, and the fortunes of war turned against Otto’s forces. As the allied forces began retreating, in the third line Otto lost his mount and was nearly killed.73 So far Philip had not done much during the battle except survive a close brush with mortality.74 In most cases a near-death experience surely would be enough to unnerve anyone. To his credit he got back quickly on his horse, and as Otto’s men fled, Philip, for the first time, began to direct aspects of the battle.75 By then the allied right was the only part of Otto’s army still actively fighting, spearheaded by 700 Brabantine infantry who formed in a circle. Directed outward, their spears provided a “hedgehog” for knights led by Renaud of Boulogne. These infantrymen kept a superb battlefield discipline, holding their own against those opposed to them. Philip noticed these men and ordered a force of perhaps fifty knights and 2,000 infantry against this unit, eventually destroying it.76

70 71 72 73 74

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WB, pp. 281–82; Petit-Dutaillis, French Communes in Middle Ages, p. 74. WB, pp. 281–82; Duby, Legend, p. 44; RW, Flores 2:108; Weller, “In prima fronte belli,” p. 203. WB, pp. 282–83; RW, Flores 2, p. 108; Weller, “In prima fronte belli,” p. 211, maintains that this was not a preplanned attempt. RW, Flores 2, p. 107–08; WB, pp. 283–84; Weller, “In prima fronte belli,” p. 213. Weller, “In prima fronte belli,” pp. 209, 212. As Weller notes, the sources really do not say much about either Philip or Otto’s performance as warriors at Bouvines, and the same could be said about their roles as tactical commanders there. RW, Flores 2, p. 108, said the king was put back on his horse “with some difficulty.” WB, pp. 285–87; Philippide X, pp. 328–29; Duby, Legend, pp. 46, 201–02; Genealogiae comitum Claromariscensis, MGH SS IX, ed. George Pertz (Hanover, 1851), p. 333.

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As it seemed clear by now that the battle belonged to the French, a general pursuit began. This was a dangerous time for any victorious army, where its discipline might break down into mobs of loot hunters and seekers of the wealthy to ransom. It was growing dark, and the army was in unfamiliar country. Philip exercised particularly good judgment and command by insisting, and then reinforcing by trumpet-signals, that his soldiers were not to pursue the fleeing members of the coalition for more than a mile.77 Beyond these orders late in the battle, however, not much of its outcome had depended on his skill or ability. He had acted as an important symbol and had taken great personal risk, as scholars have long noted.78 Yet the most successful part of command Philip exercised had really come from the levels above tactics in grasping what could be achieved over time (grand strategy), the plans and objectives for attaining it (strategy) and implementing those plans while modifying them as conditions changed (operations). Conclusion Philip’s decisive victory at Bouvines did not result primarily from his tactical leadership, but rather from his long process of laying the groundwork for success. He had followed a reasonable, realistic, and achievable grand strategy first formulated by both his grandfather and father but now employed against opponents less capable than those who had faced his predecessors. The king had determined the strategic means by which he could achieve his objectives, a difficult process that had to address several questions, among them: How many resources must be expended? What manpower sources can be tapped? When should one initiate armed conflict and what kind? At the level of operational planning the fog of war sets in. While prudent leaders – like Philip – engaged in advance planning, at the operational level he had demonstrated his flexibility by adjusting his decisions as the circumstances altered. He had done this by sending a force under Louis to confront John in the west while he faced the coalition army with less than his full army. In his influential work The Legend of Bouvines, Georges Duby suggested a certain choreography to Bouvines before, during, and after the battle, and that the combat was almost a stylized chess match, or a judicial ordeal writ 77 78

WB, p. 290; “Extrait,” p. 770. The Anonymous is less precise. He says the French pursued the fleeing army for “nearly two leagues.” C. W. C. Oman, A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, vol. 1 (repr. London, 1991), pp. 489–90. For example, in the early twentieth century Charles Oman implied, in a negative way, that Philip did very little leading or commanding during the battle. His conclusion, of course, ignored the fact that the king had exhibited great competence in the higher levels of operations and strategy. The problems and limitations of exercising tactical control over a battle in the early thirteenth century were similar to what they were in the ancient world. Kagan’s The Eye of Command, pp. 164–70, 174–75, illuminates this well. She notes Julius Caesar’s inability to get his soldiers to do what he wished them to do at Gergovia in 52 BC, and that he lost the battle because of this.



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large.79 This stereotype has had remarkable durability. As recently as 2003 the highly respected military historian John Lynn asserted that in the Middle Ages perhaps battle was merely “an imperfect tournament.”80 Tactically of course, what transpired at Bouvines suggests something different. At this lowest level the fog of war, fluidity of the battlefield, the vast differences in reliability of different units, and of course most of all the fear of death made every decision uncertain and pregnant with portent. At the top three levels of military thinking, Philip had consistently invested much thought, careful administration, and fiscal planning – all things that can be controlled over time – but things that helped lay the groundwork for achieving the goal of permanently weakening the Anglo-Normans and extending his own sovereignty and suzerainty. Philip had not committed to battle until the last moment, and essentially made a snap decision based on the advice of one person. At the tactical level all commanders had the least ability to affect the outcome, something Philip appeared to be aware of based on his hapless prior experiences of battle against Richard. Once battle began it was exceedingly difficult for any commander to plan, control, or react to swiftly changing conditions, let alone one like Philip who did not have a consistent track record of battlefield success. This was unfortunate for him of course, because the extremely high stakes required any commander to function at the highest level for the duration of the battle to give him the best chance for success. Thus, in the end, like all medieval commanders who committed to battle – even if reluctantly –Philip had gambled, or, if one prefers, asked for divine providence, which might be the same thing as gambling to us. All of the king’s careful policies and strategic planning came down to a Sunday afternoon, a metaphorical coin toss or God’s judgment.81

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Duby, Legend, “The Battle,” and “Victory,” pp. 110–21, 122–37. Even before Duby, some scholars suggested the battle or parts of it were tournament-esque, as did Oman, A History 1, p. 489. John A. Lynn, Battle. A History of Combat and Culture (Boulder, CO, 2003), p. 102. For a general discussion on this topic, see Kelly DeVries, “God and Defeat in Medieval Warfare: Some Preliminary Thoughts,” in The Circle of War in the Middle Ages. Essays on Medieval and Naval History, ed. Donald J. Kagay and L. J. Andrew Villalon (Woodbridge, 1999), pp. 87–97.

5 One Monarch’s Ban on Illegal Artillery and Castle Use in the Medieval Crown of Aragon and a Slowly Changing Royal Prerogative Donald J. Kagay

This article examines how Jaime (James) I of Aragon (1214–76) sought to assert the crown’s theoretical monopoly of violence by trying to ban the unauthorized use of castles and of siege artillery by the nobility. James had some success, not least because artillery was expensive and demanded rare skills somewhat beyond the pockets of most nobles. It was, however, much more difficult to prevent nobles using castles for their own purposes, especially as in many cases these had been granted to them by the crown. In fact, the crown of Aragon, like other medieval monarchies, needed to establish consensus about the bearing of arms and the waging of war, and this proved very difficult, with many aristocrats resisting royal limitations to the extent of waging minor civil wars against James. Towards the end of his reign the Unión of barons was able to pass statutes curbing royal power and by the mid-fourteenth century they took advantage of the wars with Castile to further the cause of their own autonomy. Military and political reality trumped royal doctrine and law.

War and the Modern World At 5:30 on the morning of 16 July 1945 at Alamogordo in the New Mexico desert, the first atomic bomb, the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT, was exploded as a test for the first such aerial explosion to be utilized on the Empire of Japan.1 On witnessing the first massive atomic explosion, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the leader of the team of scientists that produced the bomb, 1

James P. Delgado, Nuclear Dawn: The Atomic Bomb from the Manhattan Project to the Cold War (New York, 2009); Herbert Dix, “Japan’s Delayed Surrender: A Reinterpretation,” in Hiroshima in History and Memory, ed. Michael J. Hogan (Cambridge, 1996), pp. 80–115; The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, ed. Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Nolan (Washington, DC, 1977); Francis George Gosling, The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb (Washington, DC, 1994); Paul Ham, Hiroshima, Nagasaki (Sydney, 2011); Robert A. Lewis and Eliot Tolzer, “How We Dropped the A-Bomb,” Popular Science (August 1957), pp. 71–75, 209–10.

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immediately discerned its terrible potential. He realized that neither he nor the modern world could avoid the horrific ramifications of a world in which modern science was clearly the handmaiden of war. Like Krishna in the Hindu sacred epic, Bhavagad Gita, he could not escape the sad fact that: “I am become death/ the destroyer of worlds.”2 In the final analysis, the Alamogordo blast provided humankind with a weapon of such destructive dimensions that it could potentially render much of the Earth’s environment too toxic for human life. When the advancement of military technology gave men the very real possibility of killing off their fellows in unprecedented numbers, international law was called upon to formulate new ethical standards for human battlefields, in response to a movement toward ever-more complex implements of warfare that seemed to steadily lessen human control over war-making. Human inventiveness, which steadily put new weapons in the hands of ever-larger numbers of soldiers, acted almost as quickly to hem in this development with new walls of legal practice concerning evolving weaponry. From the High Middle Ages to the Early Modern period and onward, judicial theorists from John of Salisbury to Thomas Aquinas and Vitoria to Grotius inserted an entire corpus of war law in the new jurisprudence that reflected a swift movement toward the modern world.3 Under the influence of such theoreticians and a surging tide of internationalism, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century governments bound their nations under treaty to fight each other only in “civilized” ways. These norms, among other things, precluded the use of poison gas and dum-dum bullets.4 The peak of the drive toward “humanity in war by mutual agreement” came with the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, which attempted to outlaw all offensive war between nations.5

2 3

4

5

Quoted in Peter Goodchild, J. Robert Oppenheimer (Boston, MA, 1981), p. 162. William Belcher Ballis, The Legal Position of War. Changes in its Practice and Theory from Plato to Vatell (New York, 1973); Herald J. Berman, The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (Cambridge, MA, 1988), pp. 360, 416; John D. Hosler; John of Salisbury: Military Authority of the Twelfth-Century Renaissance (Leiden, 2013); Robert L. Phillips, War and Justice (Norman, OK, 1984), pp. 71–100. Sterling W. Edmunds, “The Laws of War: Their Rise in the Nineteenth Century and Their Collapse in the Twentieth,” Virginia Law Review 15 (1928–29), 324–42; Alejandro Guesalga, Estudio de las leyes de la guerra (Berlin, 1896), pp. 60–62; Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Laws of War and Dubious Weapons (Stockholm, 1976), pp. 1–3. For the Kellogg-Briand Pact, see: Thomas A. Bailey, A Diplomatic History of the American People (New York, 1971); R. H. Ferrell, The Origin of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (New Haven, CT, 1952); Stephen J. Kneeshaw, In Pursuit of Peace: The American Reaction to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928–1929 (New York, 1991); Denys P. Myers and Kirby Page, Origin and Conclusion of the Paris Pact (New York, 1972); J. C. Vinson, William E. Borah and the Outlawry of War (Athens, GA, 1964).



Illegal Artillery and Castle Use in the Medieval Crown of Aragon 149 War and the Medieval World

It is the purpose of this article to look down from this pinnacle of this wellmeaning but ill-considered pacifism of the twentieth century and to trace the connection of legal control back to the advent of new weapons and military techniques within the medieval Crown of Aragon. In the castled landscape of eastern Spain, royal jurisprudence had to render legal opinions about how the burgeoning number of castles and rapid advance of counterweight artillery were to be dealt with by one Aragonese ruler, Jaime I (r. 1214–76), and his immediate successors. As Quincy Wright has remarked, the restriction of war and the means of making it has fallen into two categories over the centuries, “one of which has been international, but not [civil] law, the other of which has been [civil] law, but not international.”6 We may also class these juridical control mechanisms as either humane or jealous. In the first of these, the Church, an institution seldom directly involved in war, but often injured by it, attempted to ameliorate the level of violence in the lay world it served. Calling on a body of thought that stretched back to Jesus and his immediate followers, churchmen throughout the first millennium of the Church’s existence counseled secular rulers to avoid conflict whenever possible, and yet minutely defined what constituted a just war.7 When government authority all but disappeared during the tenth century with the disintegration of the Carolingian empire, the Church took a much more active role in restricting war through the peace and truce movement.8 By protecting the powerless members of society and limiting all forms of war to certain times of the year, the Church assumed a position of power that would challenge lay authority until the Great Schism of the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In this role, religious councils throughout the twelfth and thirteenth century focused on the conduct of war in a number of ways, including the ban of bow 6 7

8

Quincy Wright, A Study of War, 2 vols. (Chicago, IL, 1942), p. 1:155. Philippe Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, trans. Michael Jones (1980: repr. Oxford, 1990), p. 265; Roland H. Bainton, Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-evaluation (New York, 1960), pp. 97–98; Maurice Keen, The Laws of War in the Late Middle Ages (London, 2015); Umphery Lee, The Historic Church and Modern Pacifism (New York, 1943), pp. 77–78, 85–86; Jenny Teichman, Pacifism and Just War. A Study of Applied Philosophy (Oxford, 1986), p. 54; LeRoy Walters, The History of the Just War Theory; With Special Reference to Thomas Aquinas and Francisco de Vitoria (New Haven, CT, 1969); idem, “The Just War and the Crusade: Antithesis or Anthologies?” The Monist 57/4 (1973), 584–94, esp. 591–92. For early Peace and Truce of God, see: H. E. J. Cowdrey, “The Peace and Truce of God in the Eleventh Century,” Past & Present 46 (1970), 42–67; The Peace of God, ed. Geoffrey Koziol (Kalamazoo, MI, 2018); The Truce of God, ed. William Rowan (Grand Rapids, MI, 2005). For general peaces, see The Law of War: A Documentary History, ed. Leon Friesman, 2 vols. (New York, 1972), 1:9; The Usatges of Barcelona: The Fundamental Law of Catalonia, trans. Donald J. Kagay (Philadelphia, PA, 1995), pp. 14–15.

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or crossbow use against Christians,9 the prohibition of tournaments (something that turned out less than successfully),10 and the forbidding of clerical participation in the military profession.11 In the second variety of war restriction, various groups, who considered combat their stock-in-trade, moved to safeguard this bellicose monopoly. Sovereigns looked on control over war as a paramount regalian right, which could not be violated without incurring royal wrath. Agreeing fully with Justinian “that the use of arms without the knowledge of the prince is prohibited,”12 rulers throughout the Middle Ages did everything in their power to prevent private wars, or at least divert them into the more acceptable channels of duel and tournament.13 As a corollary to this policy, kings from Charlemagne onward did everything possible to prevent their barons from gaining full control of key fortresses or advanced military hardware.14 While European nobilities might work at cross purposes with monarchs in this regard, they, too, sometimes opposed changes to the face of battle such as the incorporation of commoners into regularly summoned military forces or the growing reliance on “unfair” and “unchivalric” weapons, especially counterweight artillery.15 As the Middle Ages ended, the Crown and barony acted frantically, but unsuccessfully, to hold out against military changes that technology and large-scale societal developments were bringing about. 9

10

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15

For crossbow and bow ban, see: C. J. Hefele and H. Leclercq, Histoire des conciles, 11 vols. in 21 (Paris, 1907–54), vol. 5, pt 1, p. 733, art. 29; Jim Bradbury, The Medieval Archer (New York, 1985), pp. 169–71, James Turner Johnson, Ideology, Reason, and the Limitation of War: Religious and Secular Concepts, 1200–1740 (Princeton, NJ, 1975), pp. 129–30; Phillips, War and Justice, pp. 72, 79–80. For prohibition of the tournament and duel (Second Lateran Council), see: Summa conciliorum omnium ordianta, aucta, illustrata ex Merlini, Joverii, Baronii, Binii, Coriolani, Sirmundi aliorumque collectionibus ac manuscriptis aliquot (Paris, 1659), vol. 1, p. 282, art. 14; James Turner Johnson, Just War Tradition and the Restraint of War: A Moral and Historical Inquiry (Princeton, NJ, 1981), pp. 45–46; Maurice Keen, Chivalry (New Haven, CT, 1984), pp. 96–98. For prohibition of clerical participaton in the military [Fourth Lateran Council], see: Summa conciliorum omnium, vol. 1, p. 301, art. 18. Russell, Just War, p. 49, n. 29. Henry A. Myers, Medieval Kingship (Chicago, IL, 1964), p. 192; Gianfranco Poggi, The Development of the Modern State. A Sociological Introduction (Stanford, CA, 1978), pp. 30–31; Richard Barber, The Knight and Chivalry (Woodbridge, 2000), pp. 199–200. Capitulariae regnum Francorum, 2 vols. in Momumenta Germaniae Historica. Legum. Sectio II, ed. Alfred Boretius (Hannover, 1992), 2:328, chap. 1; John Beeler, Warfare in Feudal Europe, 730–1000 (Ithaca, NY, 1971), p. 27; Martin Van Creveld, Technology and War from 2000 B.C. to the Present (New York, 1989), pp. 29–30. March Bloch, Feudal Society, trans. L. A. Manyon, 2 vols. (Chicago, IL, 1965), 2:289–90; John R. Hale, “War and Public Opinion in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries,” Past & Present 22 (1962), pp. 28–30; Michael Howard, War in European History (Oxford, 1976); Johnson, “Ideology,” pp. 128-29; John U. Nef, War and Human Progress: An Essay on the Rise of Industrial Civilization (Cambridge, MA, 1950), pp. 115, 118; Malcolm Vale, War and Aristocratic Culture in England, France, and Burgundy at the End of the Middle Ages (London, 1981), pp. 128–29.



Illegal Artillery and Castle Use in the Medieval Crown of Aragon 151 Royal Control in the Crown of Aragon

With Wright’s two classifications of war- and arms-restriction in mind, we look to the situation in Christian Iberia, especially the linked realms of Aragon, Catalonia, and Valencia. In territories of such “strong folk… right well encastled,” it hardly seems surprising that fortress-building and siege machinery were matters of supreme importance to Crown, noble, cleric, and townsmen alike.16 To this concern was added the long and eventful reign of Jaime (Jaume) I of Aragon (r. 1214–76) who, as Father Burns has pointed out, absolutely “delighted in artillery” but was adamantly opposed to its unlicensed use.17 The methods the Aragonese sovereign employed to attain this end reflect very clearly the dual path of peace and disarmament discussed above. As a “vigorous prizefighter of Christ and most victorious propagator of the Christian faith,” Jaime was the embodiment of a long and often stormy relationship between eastern Spanish kings and the Papacy, which largely centered on the centuries-long war with Islam.18 The Conqueror and his predecessors as far back as Count Ramon Berenguer I (r. 1035–76) were yet influenced by the Church’s efforts at pacification through their own sponsorship of the peace and truce.19 By the adaptation of the pax et treuga to civil ends, the rulers of the region practiced war and arms restriction of a mottled sort, which was influenced by both humane and self-serving considerations. As far as the limitation of heavy artillery goes, the royal role as peacemaker has two extremely important aspects. As Bisson has pointed out, the peace and truce provided the rulers of Aragon and Catalonia with a constitutional framework, in which they could emerge as true “givers of law” (legislatores).20 Thus, from specific 16

17

18

19

20

Wright, A Study of War; Pere Català i Roca, Castillos y torres de Cataluña (Barcelona, 1981); idem, “Los castillos de la Reconquista en Cataluña,” Castillos de España 71 (1971), 18–31; María Teresa Ferrer i Mallol, “Los castillos de la frontera meridional valenciana en el siglo XIV,” in Actas XV asamblea general de la Sociedad Española de Estudios Medievales (Alicante, 1989), pp. 199–214, esp. 199–201. Marin Sebastian Goffritter, The Castles of Mallorca: A Diachronic Perspective of the Dynamics of Territorial Control on an Islamic Island (Exeter, 2011); Cristóbal Guitart Aparicio, Castillos de Aragón (Zaragoza, 1979); idem, “Desarrollo histórico de los castillos y fortificaciones en Aragón,” Boletín de la Asociación Española de Amigos de los Castillos 33 (1961), 61–76; E. Allison Peers, Catalonia Infelix (1938; Westport, CT, 1970), p. 6. Robert I. Burns, S. J., “The Spiritual Life of James the Conqueror, King of Arago-Catalonia, 1208–76: Portrait and Self Portrait,” Catholic Historical Review 62 (1976), 1–35, esp. p. 33; Donald J. Kagay, “Jaime I of Aragon: Child and Master of the Spanish Reconquest,” Journal of Medieval Military History 8 (2010), 69–108, esp. pp. 93–95. Archivo de la Corona de Aragón [hereafter ACA], Cancillería real, R. [Registro] 13, f. 283; Peter Linehan, The Spanish Church and the Papacy in the Thirteenth Century (Cambridge, 1971), p. 209; Damian J. Smith, Innocent III and the Crown of Aragon (Aldershot, 2004), p. 279, doc. 8. Thomas N. Bisson, “The Organized Peace in Southern France and Catalonia, ca. 1140–ca. 1230,” American Historical Review 82 (1977), 291–308; Sister Karen Kennelly, C. S. J., “Catalan Peace and Truce Assemblies,” Studies in Medieval Culture 5 (1975), 41–51. Bisson, “Organized Peace,” p. 291.

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articles of royal peace, more general statutes touching on the “common utility” of the realm were issued by the Crown as the twelfth century waned.21 One of these laws, which addressed the subject of ambush or aguait, provided the base terminology for the artillery ban. In one eleventh-century peace council and in two sections of the twelfth-century Usatges of Barcelona, ambush that resulted in the death or the imprisonment of a knight was condemned in the harshest terms.22 Such a reaction arose not so much because of damage inflicted by this activity, but rather from the fact that such evil actions caused “serious dishonor” to the victim, especially if a member of the nobility. No matter his status, however, an attack from ambush precluded a fair fight and put the victim, even if he was armed, at a great disadvantage. In effect, the aguait quite successfully transformed combatants into something verging on a defenseless non-combatants. Much the same argument, namely, the protection of a man’s honor, was used by Jaime when he attempted to keep advanced military technology out of the hands of his nobles. The king’s claim to this modern weapon was closely connected to the concept of royal prerogative. It is a short step from a king’s connection with pacification of his realm to the jealous defense of his authority base. Though the renewal of Roman law in the twelfth century brought with it an imperial ideology, no medieval ruler could be an emperor.23 Surrounded by the privileges of his great subjects who were also his vassals, the sovereigns of the Crown of Aragon, like monarchs across Europe, quickly saw that their regnal position was firmly tied to the fulfillment of generally recognized royal duty. In ideal terms, the king was an agent of God – a quasi semideus to use Giles of Romes’s terms – who stood over his people not to tyrannize, but to serve them.24 To do so, he consistently engaged in the royal

21

22 23

24

Fidel Fita y Colomé, “Cortes de Barcelona (10 Marzo, 1131),” Boletín de Real Academia de História [hereafter, BRAH] 4 (1884), 79–83, esp. p. 83; Usatges de Barcelona. El codí a mitjan segle XII, ed. Joan Bastardas (Barcelona, 1984), pp. 56–160; Usatges of Barcelona, trans. Kagay, 66, 97 (arts. 6, 124). Fidel Fita y Colomé, “Cortes y Usajes de Barcelona,” BRAH 17 (1890), 385–428, esp. pp. 393–98. Manlio Bellomo, The Common Legal Past of Europe, 1000–1800, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (Washington, DC, 1995), pp. 112–48; Berman, Law and Revolution, pp. 275–94; Bernard Guenée, States and Rulers in Later Medieval Europe, trans. Juliet Vale (1971; repr. Oxford, 1981), p. 81; Bonifacio Palacios Martín, Las coronaciones de los reyes de Aragón, 1204– 1410. Aportación al estudio de los estructuras políticas medievales (Valencia, 1975); Susan Reynolds, Kingdoms and Communities in Western Europe, 900–1300 (Oxford, 1984), pp. 245, 327–28; Munroe Smith, A General View of European Legal History and Other Papers (1927; repr. New York, 1967), pp. 32–37; Brian Tierney, Church Law and Constitutional Law in the Middle Ages (London, 1979). Reynolds, Kingdoms, p. 318, doc. 20; Bernat Desclot, Chronicle of the Reign of King Pedro III, trans. F. L. Critchlow (Princeton, NJ, 1928), pp. 21–22 (chap. 3); Fritz Kern, Kingship and the Law in the Middle Ages. I. The Divine Right of Kings and the Right of Resistance in the Early Middle Ages; II. Law and Constitution in the Middle Ages, trans. S. B. Chrimes (1956: repr. New York, 1970), pp. 7–8.



Illegal Artillery and Castle Use in the Medieval Crown of Aragon 153

activities that had been usurped in large measure by great and small nobles alike during the dark days of the tenth century.25 Among the duties that validated royal power for the Aragonese king were the protection of his realms and unarmed people,26 defense of the roads and sea lanes and all who traverse them,27 maintenance of sound currencies,28 unprejudiced dispensation of justice to inhabitants of the several realms and to foreigners alike,29 and finally and most importantly for our purposes, the sole responsibility for declaring war and making peace.30 These responsibilities were broadly assumed and jealously guarded by every ruler of the medieval Crown of Aragon. In spite of this, the baronies of the region doggedly tried to maintain at least a partial control over such lucrative activities as minting coins and warring on the wealthy taifa states of Muslim Spain.31 Royal and noble claims to such enterprises proved flashpoints through much of Jaime’s reign. The liturgy of grievances such disputes provoked when a legitimate ruler tried to fully assert his prerogatives and a nobility grew disgruntled at having long-held rights overridden by a power-hungry Crown go a long way in explaining the dynamics of royal control over artillery and fortifications. Royal Military Control in the Crown of Aragon One of the first verifiable instances of the control of certain weapons and fortifications occurs from the mid-twelfth century in the Usatges of Barcelona. It deserves to be quoted in full since lengthy citations of this article were made in royal communiques and judicial records throughout the thirteenth century. It reads: 25

26 27 28 29

30

31

Pierre Bonnassie, La Catalogne du milieu de Xe à la fin du Xie siècle. Croissance et mutation d’une société, 2 vols. (Toulouse, 1975–76), 2:575–600; Pierre Bonnassie, From Slavery to Feudalism in Southwestern Europe, trans. Jean Birrell (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 149–89. Usatges, ed. Bastardas, pp. 98, 134, 144 (arts. 62, 99, 112); Usatges, trans. Kagay, pp. 78–79, 90, 93 (arts. 62, 99, 112). Usatges, ed. Bastardas, pp. 92, 94-8-106 (arts 57 59–61, 68–69); Usatges, trans. Kagay, pp. 77–79, 81 (arts 57 59–61, 68–69). Usatges, ed. Bastardas, p. 98 (art. 62); Usatges, trans. Kagay, p. 79 (art. 62). Usatges, ed. Bastardas, pp. 110–12, 156–58 (arts 73, 122-123); Usatges, trans. Kagay, pp. 82–83, 96–97 (arts 73, 122–23); Pere III of Catalonia (Pedro IV of Aragon), Chronicle, trans. Mary Hillgarth, 2 vols. (Toronto, 1980), 2:413–14 (chap. 4, no. 28); Colección de los Cortes de los antiguos reinos de Aragón y de Valencia y el principado de Cataluña [hereafter CAVC], ed. Fidel Fita y Colomé and Bienvenido Oliver, 27 vols. (Madrid, 1896–1922), vol. 1, pt 1, p. 89. Usatges, ed. Bastardas, pp. 76–78, 102, 136 (arts 30–34, 64, 100–01); Usatges, trans. Kagay, pp. 72–73, 80, 90 (arts 30–34, 64, 100–01); El Fuero de Jaca, ed. Mauricio Mohlo (Zaragoza, 1964), p. 165 (art. 1); Alfred Vanderpol, La doctrine scholastique du droit de guerre (Paris, 1911), p. 309. The Book of Deeds of Jaime I of Aragon: A Translation of the Medieval Catalan Llibre dels Fets, trans. Damian Smith and Helena Buffery (Aldershot, 2003) [hereafter LF], pp. 203–06 (chaps 232–36).

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Let none of the magnates… hereafter presume in any way… to build a new castle against the prince, nor hold his fortifications under siege nor wage war with siege engines which are vulgarly called a fundibulum, goza, and gatta since this is a great dishonor. But if a person does this, let him abandon or destroy his castle or give it back to the prince without any lessening of its value.32

Jaime I, ever desirous for the martial advantages always bestowed on him by the use of artillery, repeated and expanded this ban in 1225 at the Catalan corts of Tortosa with the following law: we establish that no one should transport a fundibulum, goza, or gatta or any other war engine without our special permission and command nor shall he travel with these unless he has a special privilege from us or our ancestors to do so.33

Both of these laws reflect the importance of the king’s role (status) in achieving and protecting the welfare of the realm, while clearly pointing the way to how nation-states would later act.34 The key concept which these statutes and those dealing with acts of ambush (aguait) address is that of deshonor, which signified much more than a simple affront to another’s social position, but insulted his immediate lord, and his ultimate master, the king. Another act which Jaime repeatedly punished was a vassal’s unlicensed building of castles, which he saw as a clearly dangerous usurpation of generic royal rights as well as the infringement of the feudal pact or convenientia, which tied him to the king, who was also his feudal lord.35 The culprit was thus at once a rebel against his sovereign and a perjurer against his lord. Strategic castles and artillery were of such importance to the Crown that “it seemed unfit for anyone in the world to possess [them] except a king.”36 These military elements provided an advantage that Jaime and his predecessors claimed solely for their

32

33

34

35

36

Usatges, trans. Kagay, 82–83 (art. 73). The first two terms refer to war engines; the third is a battering ram. For types of artillery used during Jaime I’s military campaigns, see Paul E. Chevedden, “The Artillery of King James the Conqueror,” in Iberia and the Mediterranean World of the Middle Ages, ed. P. Chevedden, D. Kagay and P. Padilla (Leiden, 1996), pp. 47–94, and also Josep Suñé Arce, “Técnicas de ataque y defensa en los asedios del siglo XIII: ámbito catalano-aragonés y occitano,” Gladius 33 (2013), 113–30. CAVC, 1, pt 1, p. 100 (art. 19); Marca Hispanica sive limes Hispanicus, hoc est, geographica et historica Cataloniae, Ruscinonis, et circumiacentium populorum, comp. Pierre Marca, ed. E. Baluze (1685; repr. Barcelona, 1972), p. 1408 (art. 7). CAVC, I, pt 1, 102; Gaines Post, Studies in Medieval Legal Thought, Public Law, and the State, 1100–1322 (Princeton, NJ, 1964), pp. 16–22; Joseph R. Strayer, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (Princeton, NJ, 1970), p. 26. Thomas N. Bisson, “The Problem of Feudal Monarchy: Aragon, Catalonia, and France,” Speculum 53 (1978), 466–78. Bonnassie, From Slavery, pp. 170–94; Eulalia Rodón Binué, El lenguaje técnico del feudalismo en el siglo XI en Cataluña: Contribución al estudio del latín medieval (Barcelona, 1957), p. 78. LF, p. 143, chap. 136.



Illegal Artillery and Castle Use in the Medieval Crown of Aragon 155

royal office, since by such structures and military equipment the realm could be better defended and its enemies effectively held at bay.37 In real terms, unlicensed castle building or renovation was a crime that eastern Spanish nobles and townsmen committed much more frequently than the illegal use of heavy artillery. This is undoubtedly because they were often given full rights to strategic sites such as hills and cliffs, even though the Crown by the twelfth century attempted to reserve such zones for its own prerogative.38 Most nobles also attained “custody” (potestas), not ownership, over a fortress as a vassal of the sovereign. Though they pledged to turn over the strongholds to their lords whenever requested even if they were engaged in war with them, such promises habitually faded the longer the castle remained in the hands of the vassal who had long held immediate control over it.39 Faced with such effrontery, the king had only one recourse – to reclaim what was rightfully his by force. The disputes that sprang up between Jaime I and the nobles of many of his realms concerning the control of castles and the royal forbiddance of artillery use among these great men made for ever worsening relations between the Crown and its greatest subjects within all of its peninsular realms. As the last decades of Jaime I’s reign drifted by, both sides were driven by attitudes that strengthened the certitude of both king and nobles that each was obviously in the right and the other was just as obviously in the wrong. Jaime I, who came to the throne at age six, spent the rest of his life trying to control his nobles while proving his own rectitude as sovereign. In 1226, at the end of the first decade of these disputes, the young king declared in frustration: We are the king of Aragon and the kingdom is ours by right. Those who come against us are our subjects. In coming to fight us, they do what they ought not to, since we do what is right and they do what is wrong. Thus, God must help us.40

Also angry and hurt, the nobles met their king’s attitudes and actions with a “curious adherence to legality” (based on the perception that the king’s author37 38

39

40

Alfonso X, Las Siete Partidas, trans. Samuel Parsons Scott, ed. Robert I. Burns, 5 vols. (Philadelphia, PA, 2001), 2:440 (Bk 2, Tit. XXIII, l. II). Cartulario de “San Cugat” de Valles, ed. José Rius Serra, 3 vols. (Barcelona, 1945–47), 1:4–6, doc. 2. Liber feudorum maior, ed. Francisco Miguel Rossell, 2 vols. (Barcelona, 1945–47), 2:24, 283 (docs. 511, 798); Usatges, trans. Kagay, p. 81 (art. 68). ACA, Concillería real, R. 11, ff. 243, 261; Legajo 516 (1), f. 3; Los Fueros de Aragón, ed. Gunnar Tilander (London, 1937), pp. 142–43 (VI:256); Fueros de Jaca, pp. 303–04 (art. 6); Valencia, Documentos de Jaime I, ed. Ambrosio Huici Miranda and María Desamparados Cabanes Pecourt, 5 vols. (Valencia, 1976–88), 1:321, doc. 187; Charles Baudon de Mony, Relations politiques des comtes de Foix avec Catalogne jusqu’au commencement du XIVe siècle (Paris, 1896), pp. 117–18 (doc. 4); Rodon Binue, Contribución, pp. 200–02; Usatges, trans. Kagay, p. 74 (arts 39, 42). LF, pp. 48–49 (chap 29); Donald J. Kagay, “Structures of Baronial Dissent and Revolt under James I (1213–76),” Mediaevistik 1 (1988), 61–85, esp. p. 64.

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itarian tendencies “appeared uncustomary and therefore illegal”) that made true compromise between king and country virtually impossible for many decades to come.41 From the 1220s to the 1260s, Jaime I saw relatively minor disputes grow into dangerous local conflicts that simultaneously could involve baronies of several realms. On multiple occasions, these mini-wars were caused by the king’s relatives, including his legitimate and illegitimate sons, sometimes one group of them against the other.42 The seriousness of these small-scale civil wars is not to be underestimated since they eventually functioned as a catalyst for a great constitutional change throughout the Crown of Aragon.43 Despite the dangers posed by such revolts, the commonwealth was shaken to the core by episodes of virtual civil war and international conflict that occurred in the fourteenth century.44 Throughout Jaime I’s reign this must be attributed to the fact that the eastern Spanish nobles, with limited resources and manpower at their disposal, always fought from the defensive and without extensive artillery use. It was thus a fairly simple matter for the king to isolate his baronial enemies by besieging their castles and taking control of the territory dominated by these fortresses.45 Because of the expense of artillery, the need for skilled operators, and the repeated ban on these weapons throughout the reign of Jaime I and his immediate successors, there are only three verifiable instances of artillery use by baronial forces – 1259, 1267, and 1348. Our first example, though chary in specific details concerning artillery use shows quite clearly the artillery ban in action. When yet another Catalan noble conspired against the Crown with barons of the Pyrenean counties, the king forbade in the strongest terms the private transport of war machines by any of his subjects. In the second example, a rebellious Aragonese noble, Ferriz de Lizana, whose father’s castle at Lizana (Huesca, Aragon) was badly damaged by the artillery of the boy-king, Jaime I, in 1220, took the precaution of employing a war machine in his own service. Unfortunately for the rebel cause, his own lack of operational skill and the king’s keen marksmanship destroyed the insurgents’ engine, which brought ultimate defeat and the surrender of the battered castle.46 Our third 41 42

43

44 45

46

Charles T. Wood, The Quest for Eternity (Garden City, NY, 1971), p. 57. Stefano M. Cingolani, “Fernando, Abad de Montearagón y Fernando Sánchez,” Aragón en la Edad Media 23 (2001), 38–65; Fernando Fondevilla, “La nobleza catalano-aragonesa por Ferrán Sánchez de Castro de 1274,” in Congrès d’història de la Corona d’Aragó, dedicat al rey En Jaume I y a la seva época, 2 vols. (Barcelona, 1909–13), 2:1060–176. Rafael Altamira y Crevea, “Magna Carta and Spanish Medieval Jurisprudence,” in Magna Carta Commemoration Essays, ed. Henry Elliott Malden (London, 1917), pp. 222–43; Joseph F. O’Callaghan, A History of Medieval Spain (Ithaca, NY, 1983), pp. 388–89, 394–95. Donald J. Kagay and L. J. Andrew Villalon, Conflict in Fourteenth-Century Iberia: Aragon vs. Castile and the War of the Two Pedros (Leiden, 2020), pp. 69–136. Donald J. Kagay, “Army Mobilization, Royal Administration, and the Realm in the Thirteenth-Century Crown of Aragon,” in Iberia and the Mediterranean World, pp. 96–114, esp. 99–101; idem, “Structures,” pp. 64–65. LF, 29–30 (I:15); Zurita, Anales, 1:665–66 (III:lxxiii).



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example took place in the early fall of 1348 when the Aragonese king, Pedro IV (r. 1339–86) had begun to mop up the remnants of the Valencian Unión. This force marched on the small town of Ribarroja de Turia (Cat. Riba-roja de Túria), northwest of the capital. According to the king, this group of rebels was marked by its “wrongful intentions” in transporting with them a number of siege engines with which they demolished the small settlement and then overran the Jewish quarter in the town of Murviedro north of Valencia. There is no indication, however, artillery was used in this later attack by the troops of the rebel “Unión” (a confederation of Aragonese and Valencian nobles and townsmen tied together by mutual oaths).47 The artillery ban for Jaime’s subjects also attempted to prevent arms sales between southern France and the Crown of Aragon. Jaime completely based his prohibition on the earlier legislation, saying that the custom of his lands permitted artillery use only for the king and his army. The perversion of this monopoly by his people wholly undercut allegiance to the Conqueror as both sovereign and suzerain.48 While transporting artillery without royal permission could bring down on anyone unfortunate enough to be caught the charge of being a “traitor” (bausator) and “perjurer” (perjurus) by the king,49 judicial and military reprisals of the Crown hardly constituted an automatic deterrence for such action since Jaime’s occasional indulgence toward his nobility was well known and often “emboldened them to commit further crimes against him.”50 The paramount factors damping artillery use among eastern Spanish nobilities were often less legal than they were economic and technical. The machines were extremely costly to construct, operate, maintain and transport and required an increasing number of war technicians, who often bore the title “engineer” (ingeniator) and invariably worked for the most generous paymaster, who often proved to be the king.51 Even when nobles of Catalonia and the Catalan counties of the Pyrenees gained control of artillery pieces during the French invasion of 1287–88 by capture, they showed little interest in building up arsenals of artillery pieces even though they cost them nothing and had been the property of the French king and his army.

47 48

49 50 51

Pedro IV, Chronicle, 2:439 (IV:53). ACA, Cancillería real, R. 11, f. 247; Francesch Carreras i Candi, “Rebelió de noblesa catalana contra Jaume I en 1259,” Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras de Barcelona 6 (1911–12), pp. 523–24 (doc. 20). Usatges, trans. Kagay, pp. 73–74 (arts 37, 39). LF, 325 (chap. 459); DJ, 1:(doc. 91); Kagay, “Structures,” p. 69. ACA, Cancillería real, R. 14, f. 72; Joaquím Miret y Sans, Itinerari de Jaime I “el Conqueridor. Edició facsímil (Barcelona, 2007), p. 370. We can compare Jaime’s officials called “our master of artillery” (ballistario nostro) with a much fuller description of how artillery was stored, deployed and fired by Alfonso X’s artillerists in Siete Partidas, 2:254–255 (Bk II, Tit. XXIII, ll. XXIII–XXIV. In these articles Alfonso X counseled his commanders to depend on the experienced artillerymen within the ranks of the army rather than depending on professionals.

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As Jaime I moved towards his seventh decade of rule, his insistence on the continued recognition of royal prerogatives, which had underpinned the castle and artillery bans, came under direct attack from 1265, when Aragonese barons at Ejea forced on their sovereign certain laws that gradually weakened royal power.52 For the next twenty years, the Unión pushed its advantage into the realm of parliament by passing a series of laws headed by the Privilegio General (1283) and the Privilegio de la Unión (1287), which questioned the unfettered power of the king and tried to bring it under the shadow these laws and the unionist leaders who set the standards for these new statutes.53 The expanding power of the Unión remained intact until Jaime I’s grandson, Jaime II (r. 1291– 1327), clipped its wings by taking the united nobilities to court in 1301.54 Though the Crown seemed to reestablish much of its powers, the Unión bided its time until the accession in 1336 of Jaime II’s grandson, Pedro IV, a well-educated and well-read young man who by his harsh temper made many enemies. True to his character, the new king angered his half-brothers and younger sibling as well as the Aragonese and Valencian unionists by seriously exploring the possibility of arranging to have his first-born daughter, Constanza, succeed him, if he had no sons.55 These growing differences awoke the slumbering Unión, which locked Pedro into a two-front war in Aragon and Valencia during 1347 and 1348. After almost losing his crown, the king reestablished Jaime I’s old coalition, consisting of his clergy and townsmen, bolstering it with baronial royalists in his rebellious realms.56 52

53

54

55

56

LF, p. 347 (VII:498); Real Academia de Historia, Ms. 3780, Colección Abad y Lasierra, ff. 65–71; José Luis Lacruz Berdejo, “Fueros de Aragón hasta 1265,” Anuario de Derecho Aragonés 2 (1945), pp. 514–18; Carlos López y Haro, La Constitución y Libertades de Aragón (Madrid, 1926), pp. 303–04. The statements of new powers of the nobility for Aragon were the Privilegio General (1283) and the Privlegios de la Unidat (1287). Real Academia de Historia, Ms., M-139, ff. 101v–107; Esteban Sarasa Sánchez, El Privilegio General de Aragón. La defensa de las libertades aragonesas en la Edad Media (Zaragoza, 1983), pp. 61–90. Donald J. Kagay, “Rebellion on Trial: The Aragonese Unión and its Uneasy Connection to Royal Law,” Journal of Legal History 18 (1997), 30–43. Reprinted in Donald J. Kagay, War, Government, and Society in the Medieval Crown of Aragon (Aldershot, 2007), Study VI. Pedro IV, Chronicle, 1:137–38 (I:1); 2:392–403 (IV:4–12); Chaytor, History, p. 166; Donald J. Kagay, “The Dynastic Dimensions of International Conflict in Fourteenth-Century Iberia,” Mediterranean Studies 17 (2008), 77–96; Francisco Monsalvatge y Fossa, El Vizcondado de Bas (Olot, 1893), p. 65; J. Lee Sheidman, The Rise of the Aragonese-Catalan Empire, 1200–1350, 2 vols. (New York, 1970), 1:83; Rafael Tasis i Marca, Pere el Cerimoniós i els seus fills (1957, repr. Barcelona, 1980), pp. 5–6. Diplomatari de la Unió del Regne de València (1347–1349), ed. Mateu Rodrigo Lizondo (Valencia, 2013); Santiago Simón Ballesteros, Documentos sobre la segunda Unión Aragonesa (1347–1348) (Zaragoza, 2015); Rafael Tasis i Marca, Les unions de nobles i el rei del punyalet (Barcelona, 1960); Mateu Rodrigo Lizondo, “Los privilegios de la Unión valenciana,” Ligarzas 7 (1975), 133–66.



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Having survived his greatest test to that point, Pedro IV was careful to reassert his royal prerogatives, including the earlier laws on artillery and castles. With the outbreak of a decade-long war with Castile in 1356, the Aragonese king had to fight desperately to maintain control over his threatened realms, and many frontier districts fell to Castilian troops for long periods. These enemy conquests forced Pedro to change the terms of fortress tenure for his castle lords and their castellans (alcaides). The former increasingly held their castle grants for life and the latter received higher salaries and greater government career opportunities.57 Like royal changes concerning the tenure and staffing of castles, the Aragonese king made changes to earlier royal rulings regarding artillery. He seemed much more concerned about exposing the inhumane Castilian use of these weapons against his own people than warning them against utilizing these dangerous machines.58 These changes in well-established law and administrative policy, even if temporary, bear out a truthful observation that Montaigne once made: “The clatter of arms drowns out the voice of law.”59

57 58

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Mario Lafuente Gómez, “La figura del alcaide en las fortificaciones aragonesas de realengo a mediados del siglo XIV,” Turiaso 19 (2007), 239–68, esp. pp. 262–66. On one “black day” (25 April 1363), Castilian forces led by their king, Pedro I, unleased twenty-four artillery pieces against the Aragonese town of Teruel, which suffered great destruction and loss of life during a twenty-four-hour period (Mario Lafuente Gómez, “Comportamientos sociales ante la violencia bélica en Aragón durante las guerras con Castilla, (1356–1375),” Historia instituciones derechos 35 (2008), 241–68, esp. pp. 262–66; Kagay and Villalon, Conflict in Fourteenth-Century Iberia, p. 405). The Essays of Michel Eyqem de Montaigne, trans. Charles Cotton, ed. W. Carew Hazlitt, in The Great Books, vol. 25 (Chicago, IL, 1952), p. 387 (Essay III.1).

6 The Sack of the “City” of Limoges (1370) Reconsidered in the Light of an Unknown Letter of the Black Prince1 Guilhem Pépin

A previously unknown letter of the Black Prince sent to the count of Foix, Gaston Fébus, provides several new details about the sack of the City of Limoges in 1370. This event became famous thanks to the literary talent of the chronicler Jean Froissart, and somewhat blackened the reputation of the Black Prince in several historical works of the nineteenth century. Such a view persists down to the present day in popular works. This article aims to reassess figures for the casualties suffered during the assault of the City and for the length of the siege of the City as well as the route used by the prince’s army between Angoulême and Limoges. The letter of the Black Prince, published as an appendix, completes the earlier comprehensive study by the local scholar Alfred Leroux. Furthermore, another letter from a French captain of a nearby town (also included in the appendix) informed Du Guesclin of the fall of Limoges and his measures to protect his town against any potential English siege. The sack of Limoges (19 September 1370) by the army of Edward of Woodstock, prince of Aquitaine and Wales, more famous since the sixteenth century as “the Black Prince,” has blackened the latter’s name in many accounts of the Hundred Years’ War. This ill repute comes mainly from the vivid account of this event by Jean Froissart in his famous chronicle. This article will reassess this important event in light of all the known sources, as well as of the work of the most serious scholar who has examined it, Alfred Leroux. We will use for this purpose a previously unknown source: a letter written by the prince himself when encamped before the “City” of Limoges three days after its capture. (Limoges was then divided in two distinct towns with their own walls: the “Castle” and the “City.” The City developed around the cathedral of Saint-Étienne, and the “Castle,” the main part of Limoges, developed around the abbey of Saint-Martial and a castle of the vicomtes of Limoges, which was largely demolished, save for a motte (see Figure 6.1).2

1 2

I would like to thank Françoise Lainé and Anne Curry for their help on this article. Only the castle area had a full municipal government with consuls while the City was essentially governed by its bishop and the canons of its cathedral despite the existence of

Figure 6.1  Map of Limoges, showing division into “City” and “Castle.” Map of Limoges (1670s1680s) by Jouvin de Rochefort, Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, GE C-10997, via Wikimedia Commons. Image in the Public Domain.



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The “Traditional” Narrative of Jean Froissart The account of the attack on the City of Limoges by Jean Froissart has had a deep impact on the imagination of its readers throughout the centuries, including some of the scholars of the nineteenth century.3 It is therefore useful to reproduce Froissart’s account here, from the widely used English translation by Geoffrey Brereton:4 When they knew it was the right time for it, the miners5 started a fire in their mine. In the morning, just as the prince had specified, a great section of the wall [of the City of Limoges] collapsed, filling the moat of the place where it fell. For the English,6 who were armed and ready waiting, it was a welcome sight. Those on foot could enter as they liked, and did so. They rushed to the gate, cut through the bars holding it and knocked it down. They did the same with the barriers outside, meeting with no resistance. It was all done so quickly that the people in the town were taken unawares. Then the prince, the Duke of Lancaster, the Earl of Cambridge, Sir Guichard d’Angle with all the others and their men burst into the city, followed by pillagers on foot, all in a mood to wreak havoc and do murder, killing indiscriminately, for those were their orders. These were pitiful scenes. Men, women and children flung themselves on their knees before the prince crying: “Have mercy on us, gentle sir!” but he was so inflamed with anger that he would not listen. Neither man nor woman was heeded, but all who could be found were put to the sword, including many who were in no way to blame. I do not understand how they could have failed to take pity on people who were too unimportant to have committed treason. Yet they paid for it, and paid more dearly than the leaders who had committed it. There is no man so hard-hearted that, if he had been in Limoges on that day, and had remembered God, he would not have wept bitterly at the fearful slaughter which took place. More than three thousand persons, men, women and children,

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consuls. Legally, authority over the City was equally divided between the bishop and the king of France from the pariage of 1307; hence, the prince owned half of the City. For instance, Gustave Clément-Simon in La rupture du traité de Brétigny et ses conséquences en Limousin (Paris, 1898), pp. 35–43. Jean Froissart, Chronicles, ed. and tr. Geoffrey Brereton (London, 1978), pp. 177–79. In 1365 and 1366, the prince ordered twelve or twenty miners of the Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire) to be sent to Aquitaine, although no specific use was indicated. They were miners of iron and coal and it is possible that some of them were still available to be used by the prince during this siege. See TNA, C 61/78, m. 11 (26 February 1365, Westminster) and C 61/79, m. 15 (6 May 1366, Westminster). Mines were made by the English underneath the walls of the City of Limoges, while counter-mines were dug by men of the City of Limoges in order to counter them. Nowadays underground Limoges is full of tunnels that were formerly used for storage, many of them being medieval. We use in this article the general term of “English” used by most of the contemporary sources but, in the context of the principality of Aquitaine, the armies of the Black Prince were essentialy made up of Englishmen, Gascons and Poitevins.

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were dragged out to have their throats cut. May God receive their souls, for they were true martyrs… But there was no respite elsewhere. The City of Limoges was pillaged and sacked without mercy, then burnt and utterly destroyed.

The accuracy of Froissart’s story of a sick Black Prince7 entering the City on a litter (en son chariot)8 and being insensitive to the inhabitants of the City of Limoges begging him to spare their lives is impossible to prove. But it seems highly unlikely that the prince went through the streets with his cumbersome litter during the assault or just after it, and equally unlikely that some inhabitants of Limoges recognized him and were able to come close enough to plead for their lives. It is possible that a greatly angered prince wanted to execute the bishop of Limoges for his treason, but save for Froissart’s account there is nothing to substantiate this claim. Still, the Historia Anglicana written by Thomas Walsingham (d. c. 1422) does assert that the City was destroyed after the prince threatened its citizens unless they submitted to him. According to Walsingham, the inhabitants of Limoges were killed, though a few people were 7

8

The prince was ill for several years. Froissart stated that he caught a disease while he was in Castile, and that subseqently he was then unable to ride a horse and had to travel on a litter. See Chroniques de J. Froissart, ed. Siméon Luce, 15 vols. (Paris, 1869–1975), 7:102–03 [hereafter J. Froissart]: “mès de de jour en jour il aggrevoit d’enfle et de maladie, laquele il avoit conçut en Espagne : dont ses gens estoient tout esbahi, car je ne pooit il point chevaucier […] Si le jugeoient li medecin et surgiien de France plain de ydropisse et de maladie incurable.” Walsingham asserted that the prince was poisoned around the period he left Castile while many Englishmen got sick there. Thomas Walsingham, Historia Anglicana, vol. I, A.D. 1272–1381, ed. Henry Thomas Riley (London, 1863), pp. 305–06. Chandos Herald specifies that the prince started to get sick in Angoulême after the meeting of the Three Estates of Saint-Émilion (from January 1368 onwards). Life of the Black Prince by the Herald of Sir John Chandos, ed. Mildred Katherine Pope and Eleanor Constance Lodge (Oxford, 1910), p. 118, verses 3815–20 [Hereafter Chandos Herald]. In fact, a contemporary letter, dated 19 March 1369, from an unknown person explaining the military situation in Aquitaine specifies that the prince’s illness started at All Saints 1368 (1 November 1368, the prince being then at Angoulême) and worsened at Candlemas 1369 (2 February 1369). See Anglo-Norman Letters and Petitions from All Souls MS. 182, ed. Dominica Legge (Oxford, 1941), p. 200. This suggests that the prince’s sickness was not directly linked with the Castilian expedition, as it started more than a year after its end. Michael K. Jones also claimed that the prince’s illness began in November 1368, but the source he mentions, which concerns a physician from Bordeaux, does not actually relate to the matter at all. The Black Prince (London, 2017), pp. 339, 346 and 425. According to the Chronique des quatre premiers Valois, ed. Siméon Luce (Paris, 1862), p. 210, the ill prince went to Bordeaux on a litter after the sack of Limoges: “Apres que ce la cite de Limoges fut prinse, le prince de Galles pour cause de maladie fut porté en litière à Bordeaux [sic].” That is an error, as he went to Cognac via Angoulême, not Bordeaux. This quotation suggests that the prince went on a litter after the siege and not during it. According to Thomas Walsingham the prince was able to stay on his horse “for hardly an hour” at the period of the sack of Limoges. Thus it suggests he was not always going on a litter at this period. See The St. Albans Chronicle. The Chronica Maiora of Thomas Walsingham I. 1376–1394, ed. and trans. J. Taylor, W. R. Childs and L. Watkiss (Oxford, 2003), pp. 36–37.



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taken prisoner and kept alive. This chronicle gives the darkest account of the sack after that of Froissart and may therefore have followed the same original source.9 Froissart was not the only writer, therefore, to have heard grim news about this event. Other chronicles, however, do not paint such a gloomy picture. A key study written in 1906 by the Limousin scholar Alfred Leroux strongly disputed Froissart’s narrative concerning the number of people killed during this assault. Leroux gathered together all of the known sources and provided a lot of information about what happened to the City of Limoges.10 Sadly, this fundamental work remains almost unknown since it was published in a French local history journal. And even though professional historians have qualified Froissart’s narrative of the sack of Limoges,11 popular works and articles continue to repeat the black legend of the Black Prince. A previously unknown letter of the Black Prince written three days after the sack reveals important new information and gives additional grounds to question the “traditional” view. But before dealing with the siege of the City of Limoges and its sack, it is essential to provide some context for this period in the principality of Aquitaine. The Long-Drawn-Out Collapse of the Principality of Aquitaine in Limousin Contrary to many assumptions about the end of the prince’s government of Aquitaine, not all the regions of the principality rose up in unison and in haste in favor of the French. The uprising against the prince did not begin in Rouergue, Quercy and Armagnac until the beginning of 1369, even though the appeal of the count of Armagnac occurred in April 1368 and was accepted by the king of France, Charles V, in June of that year.12 In fact, a long list of 930 places and fortresses that subscribed to the appeal, as revealed in a document drawn up by the king of France’s chancery in May 1369, did not include any places in the

9 10

11

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Thomas Walsingham, Chronicon Angliae ab anno domini 1328 usque ad annum 1388, ed. Edward Maunde Thompson (London, 1874), p. 67. Alfred Leroux, “Le sac de la Cité de Limoges et son relèvement, 1370–1464,” Bulletin de la société archéologique et historique du Limousin 56 (1906), 155–233 [hereafter Leroux]. All the details on how the assault was made and where it took place are to be found – although with different figures – in Jonathan Sumption, Divided Houses. The Hundred Years War III (London, 2009), pp. 81–84. In 1956, Colonel Alfred Higgins Burne stated: “[Froissart’s] passage has been quoted ad nauseam by English writers, although Froissart discreetly deleted the number [of 3,000 killed persons] from his subsequent Amiens MS.” The Agincourt War. A Military History of the Latter Part of the Hundred Years War, 1369 to 1453 (London, 1956), p. 21. In an appendix Burne underlined that his sources on this episode all came from Leroux’s work, pp. 27–28. On this period, see Guilhem Pépin, “Towards a New Assessment of the Black Prince’s Principality of Aquitaine: a Study of the Last Years, 1369–1372,” Nottingham Medieval Studies 50 (2006), 59–114. See also Sumption, Divided Houses, passim, and Richard Barber, Edward, Prince of Wales and Aquitaine. A Biography of the Black Prince (Woodbridge, 1978).

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Limousin at all.13 Fear of bloody repression by the English surely played its part in this situation, but historians should also recognize that the prince’s government had been able to rally support from many persons in this region, just as in the neighboring provinces of Poitou, Angoumois and Saintonge. In reality the submission of the City of Limoges to the French army under the duke of Berry (made by its bishop, Johan de Cros, on 24 August 1370) was one of the first of its kind in this province, and seems to have had a huge psychological impact.14 Meanwhile the Castle of Limoges was the base of Richard Abberbury, Edward’s seneschal of Limousin,15 and, if we follow Froissart, also of the famous routier leader Hugh de Calveley.16 It was a strongly commercial town, and remained faithful to the prince until November 1371. It is possible, though this has not been suggested until now, that the supposedly negative reaction of the prince concerning this submission in particular came from the fact that Limoges and its cathedral were considered the spiritual capital of the old duchy of Aquitaine (in other words, that of pre-1204) because, among other things, its dukes were crowned and enthroned there.17 This form of long-term memory is wholly feasible. An English chronicle on the deeds of the prince pointed out to its reader the ancient border of the duchy of Aquitaine with the “kingdom of France” in Berry on the River Cher near the town of Vierzon, when the prince’s army crossed it during the 1356 expedition.18 It is supposed that the prince was angry because the bishop of Limoges was, according to Froissart, his “compère.” This has been interpreted by Siméon Luce as meaning that he was the godfather of one of his two sons: “li evesques dou dit lieu, qui estoit ses comperes et en qui il avoit eu dou temps passé moult 13 14

15 16

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Archives Nationales (AN), Paris, J 655, no. 18. Émile Ruben, “Privilèges de la Cité de Limoges,” Bulletin de la société archéologique et historique du Limousin 18 (1868), 116–27 (original document written in Latin, copied in 1527, followed by a French translation by Émile Ruben). On 24 August, the duke of Berry, the duke of Bourbon, the count of La Marche, the marshal of France Louis de Sancerre and their army entered the City of Limoges through the Scuderie gate with a mob greeting them and their men with the French cry of “Montjoie! Saint Denis!” The duke of Berry, Bourbon, Bourbon-La Marche, Sancerre and their army left the same day, leaving a garrison there. Sir Richard Abberbury senior (d. 1399) of Donnington (Berkshire) was seneschal of Limousin for the prince of Aquitaine from April 1370 to July 1371. Froissart asserts that Hugh Calveley was then “seneschal of the land” and placed a small garrison in the City of Limoges, but the bishop would have been the real leader of the City. The English garrison was probably in the “Castle” of Limoges led by Hugh Calveley on the authority of Richard Abberbury, this garrison being unable to fight against the army of the duke of Berry when that was present in the area from 21 to 24 August 1370. However, it is possible that this garrison began a limited blockade of the City before the arrival of the prince’s army. See J. Froissart, 7:228. Guilhem Pépin, “Les couronnements et les investitures des ducs d’Aquitaine (XIe–XIIe siècle),” Francia 36 (2009), 35–65. Eulogium (historiarum sive temporis)…, ed. Frank Scott Haydon, 3 vols. (London, 1858– 63), 3:218.



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grant fiancé.”19 However, not a single document substantiates this interpretation. Another meaning of “compère” in French is simply “close friend.” We can suggest that it was used because the bishop of Limoges was a member of the prince’s council. The word “fiancé” meant that the prince had placed great trust in the bishop as a councillor. No known or surviving letter or document emanating from the prince or his administration mentions the bishop of Limoges, although we cannot claim that our search for an example is wholly exhaustive.20 A letter of King Charles V dated December 1370 mentions Johan de Cros as one of his councillors (nostre amé et feal conseiller l’evesques de Limoges),21 which suggests that the French king had given him the same rank as he had with the prince, as also happened later with the abbot of Saint-Maixent Guillaume de Vezançais (d. 1381). The latter was one of the prince’s councillors in 1369, and was subsequently a member of the privy council of Charles V in 1373.22 That said, membership of council of the prince or of the king of France was flexible and depended on the location and the subject under consideration. A decision of the prince made out of anger, however, is not a very credible hypothesis. Several historians have supposed that the prince and his councillors wished to make an example of Limoges in order to stop defections to the French. We might also think that the prince and his council wanted to demonstrate the might of English arms. In addition, the City of Limoges was at that point the most important town taken by the French, since it was the closest to Angoulême where the prince lived,23 and therefore its loss was strategically a major threat for the English. But it is clear that not all of the inhabitants of the City of Limoges agreed with the act of submission to the king of France. The canons of the cathedral of Limoges later disowned their bishop to the prince for his action, even though

19 20

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J. Froissart, 7:CXI, n.3 (this assumption comes from this note written by Siméon Luce); text on 7:243. From the unpublished catalogue of the acts of the Black Prince as prince of Aquitaine (to date, 362 acts are identified), and of his officers in the principality of Aquitaine (107 acts) that we are currently working on. But it is a challenge to find all acts and letters of the Black Prince and his officers, and several of them are no longer in existence. Antoine Thomas, “Le comté de La Marche et le traité de Brétigny,” Revue historique 76 (1901), 92–93, appendix no.VI (letter of Charles V, Paris, December 1370 : AN, JJ 100, no. 855). On 17 October 1369, at the castle of Cognac, where the prince then was, Guillaume de Vezançais was mentioned as councillor of the prince among more than six councillors. See “Recueil de documents concernant la commune et la ville de Poitiers,” 2, ed. É. Audoin, in Archives Historiques du Poitou 46 (Poitiers, 1928), p. 243, no. CCCCXLIII, and, as Charles V’s councillor: Archives Historiques du Poitou 19 (Poitiers, 1898), p. 153, n.3. Com[mune of] Saint-Maixent-l’École, arr[ondissement of] Niort, dép[artement of] DeuxSèvres. The castle of Angoulême was the main residence of the Black Prince between 1366 and 1370. See Henri Moreau, “Angoulême et le Prince Noir,” Bulletins et mémoires de la société archéologique et historique de la Charente 154/3–4 (1998), 65–72.

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three of them were present at the ceremony of submission to the French.24 And certain furriers, inhabitants of the City, apparently tried to avoid the future sack of their town by waving an “English banner”25 on a gate.26 This probably took place on 19 September 1370, the very day of the sack.27 Alfred Leroux clearly proved that the population of the City of Limoges did not reach the figure of 3,000. The presence in the City of some inhabitants of the surrounding area is unlikely as they had the possibility of finding better shelter in the safer and bigger “Castle” of Limoges. Nonetheless, the legend of this sack remains alive today in popular works,28 being reinforced, no doubt, by the curious post-medieval nickname of the Black Prince. The Real Human Casualties, the Prisoners and the Physical Destruction of the City Froissart’s figure of more than 3,000 persons killed is obviously an exaggeration, as Alfred Leroux has underlined, but we can find some basis for the estimation. The local chronicle of Saint-Martial of Limoges (a source of the fifteenth century according to Leroux, though in fact it might date to the late fourteenth century), claimed that more than 300 persons had been killed “because of the rebellion they have committed against Edward, duke of Aquitaine.”29 This figure, coming

24 25

26

27

28 29

Bonaventure de Saint-Amable, Histoire de S. Martial… (Limoges, 1685), pp. 659–60 (letters of the administration of the prince dated Bordeaux, 10 March 1371). More probably the Black Prince’s banner (arms of France and England quatered with a white label of three points). On 28 April 1372, when the marshal of France Louis de Sancerre entered the Castle of Limoges with his troops, the prince’s banners – not his father’s – were displayed on its gates. Possibly the gate of Panet (la “Porte Panet”) situated at the north of the City of Limoges, close to where the Black Prince’s army entered the City of Limoges, according to Alfred Leroux, since this section of the walls was built on tufa and not on harder rock. The prince’s troops would have gone further along Porte Panet’s street (called then “du canal”) when they invaded the City of Limoges, the last fights taking place on the small square situated before the cathedral and the bishop’s palace. The fight on this square is certain, as it is mentioned in several sources. Leroux knew well the topography of the City of Limoges, but does not cite evidence for this circuit. See Leroux, pp. 178, 185–86. To locate the gate and this street, see the map of Bernadette Barrière, Atlas historique des villes de France–Limoges (Paris, 1984). The father of a Jacmes (Jacques) Bayard was accused of that offense during a trial at the Parlement of Paris in 1404. The text specifies he would have been executed if the constable (Du Guesclin who became constable of France on 2 October?) had been there. If he was not executed or even arrested, it probably means that he acted on the same day as the assault. See Henri Moranvillé, review of Alfred Leroux, Le sac de la Cité de Limoges, in Bibliothèque de l’école des chartes 69 (1908), 216–17. Mentioned in Jones, Black Prince, pp. 407–08. For instance: Desmond Seward, The Hundred Years War (London, 1996), p. 93. Chroniques de Saint-Martial de Limoges, ed. Henri Duplès-Agier (Paris, 1874), p. 154. The title of “duke of Aquitaine” is not correct, as the Black Prince himself used only the title of “prince of Aquitaine.” It was the king of France who named him as only “duke of



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from a source from the Castle of Limoges, which was still faithful to the prince in 1370, seems more credible. We may suppose that Froissart made a mistake in adding a zero,30 or that he was influenced by French propaganda. But after all, an exaggeration of the same kind happened when Henry VI wrote about the assault on the town of Saint-Sever (in the Landes) on 25 June 1442, asserting that the French had killed 4,000 persons, surely far more than the population of this town even if it was increased in size by refugees from the countryside.31 And the chronicler Enguerrand de Monstrelet claimed that between 800 and 1,000 “English” were killed during this assault, which was still quite a high figure.32 But Monstrelet did not provide a detailed portrait of the action of this assault comparable to Froissart’s depiction of the sack of Limoges, despite the fact the king of France, Charles VII, was leading it, so that this massacre remained little known in the historiography of the Hundred Years’ War. A similar thing could be inferred from the accounts of the storming of Bergerac in August 1345. We know that the earl of Derby and some of his followers made a fortune with the ransoms of some important prisoners and the plundering of this important town, but chroniclers do not give any details on the fate of its citizens. But a contemporary account sent to the town council of Cahors gives us grim details of this same attack. According to it the English killed in Bergerac all kinds of people of both genders, whether young or old, and deflowered virgins and nuns and raped married women. Yet none of these facts were reported by any chronicles.33 For his part, Chandos Herald, who was very close to the English army (as his professional name indicates), uses this same figure of “more than 300,” this time to reckon the size of the French garrison of Limoges, not counting the burgess militia of the town.34 Froissart asserts that only “100 men-at-arms” had been

30 31

32

33

34

Aquitaine (or duke of Guyenne),” from 30 June 1368 onwards, as he (the king) claimed to have sovereignty over Aquitaine. Hence, afer 30 November 1369, when Charles V confiscated the “duchy” of Aquitaine, Edward was referred to only as “prince of Wales” in French official documents. Several manuscripts of Froissart’s chronicle do not give any figure. See for instance J. Froissart, 7:426–27 (Manuscript of Amiens). Letter of King Henry VI (Sheen, 24 April 1442): see Letters and Papers Illustrative of the Wars of the English in France during the Reign of Henry the Sixth, King of England, ed. Joseph Stevenson, 3 vols. (London, 1861–64), 2:465. La chronique d’Enguerran de Monstrelet, ed. L. Douët-D’Arcq, 6 vols. (Paris, 1857–62), 6:54: “Et en y eut prestement sans remède mis à mort bien de huit cens à mille Anglois.” The term English meant there were some actual English within a vast mass of Gascons of the English party. The chronicler Guillaume Gruel asserts that the king, Charles VII, ordered the feeding of more than 100 children who had been left by their mothers who had been taken prisoner or who had run away during the assault. See Guillaume Gruel, Chronique d’Arthur de Richemont, ed. Achille le Vavasseur (Paris, 1890), p. 176. Archives Départementales du Lot, Cahors, Archives Municipales de Cahors, FF 14. A seventeenth-century transcript of a request by the consuls of Cahors to the canons of Cahors to contribute to the maintenance of Cahors’ fortifications (cloister of the cathedral of Cahors, 4 September 1345). Chandos Herald, Vie, 125–26, verses 4047–48: “Et des genz d’armes bien iii. Cenz, Sanz les burgeises depart dedeinz.”

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left there as garrison by the duke of Berry. The Chronique normande gives a French garrison of 140 men-at-arms.35 We also know of a muster of the horses of ninety-two French men-at-arms led by Huc de la Roche and Roger de Beaufort made before the city of Limoges on 22 August 1370.36 The previously unknown letter of the Black Prince to Gaston Fébus, count of Foix and vicomte of Béarn, copied and kept in the archives of the counts of Denia-dukes of Gandia37 asserts that around 200 men-at-arms of the French garrison were taken prisoner during the assault, together with their leaders. No number was reported for casualties, either by intent or because the prince did not consider this information relevant compared with the recapture of the City of Limoges: From the prince of Aquitaine and Wales, Very dear and faithful cousin, because we think that letters are always pleasant for you: you will be pleased to hear good news concerning us and our situation and you should know that, at the sending of this [letter], we and our two brothers, the duke of Lancaster and the earl of Cambridge, [as well as] the earl of Pembroke and also our constable [the captal de Buch]38 and the other lords and men of our host are well, in good condition, praise be to Our Lord; and we are, every day, hoping to hear similar news from you. And very dear and faithful cousin, about the news, we think you have heard how we have maintained a siege before our city of Limoges, this siege having lasted around 15 days, and on Thursday 19th September, we took by assault the said city and all its fortalices, Our Lord be praised; and inside were captured the bishop of Limoges; Lord Johan de Villemur, captain of the said city; Lord Roger de Beaufort; Lord Sauvage de Villiers; Lord Huc de la Roche; and many other knights and men-at-arms, to the number of 200 men-at-arms or more […].

If we combine with caution these different data, we could suggest that around 100 men-at-arms of the garrison were killed during the assault, while 200 were taken prisoner by the prince. If so, and if we also accept the Saint-Martial chronicle’s number for the total number of dead, we could conclude that somewhat over 200 men of the militia of the City of Limoges and some civilians of this City were killed during the assault. Certainly, that was not a small number of deaths, even during the Hundred Years’ War, particularly of what might be considered “civilians,” armed or not, some of whom may have been killed by 35 36 37 38

Chronique normande du XIVe siècle, ed. Auguste Molinier and Émile Molinier (Paris, 1882), p. 195. Paul Hay, Histoire de Bertrand du Guesclin, connétable de France (Paris, 1666), pp. 330–31. Arxiu del Regne de València/Archivo del regno de Valencia (ARV), Valencia (Spain), Mestre Racional 11601, fol. 4v–5r, and Mestre Racional 9610, fol. 149–149v. This letter demonstrates that the captal de Buch Johan III de Grailly was present at the sack of Limoges.



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accident in the midst of the furious assault that followed the collapse of the city wall. Even so, at the end of the day, the assessment of the sack of Limoges is not as dramatic as described by Froissart, and was probably less harsh than what would have been permitted according to the then-current laws of war. The prince’s letter also informs us that the siege had begun around fifteen days before the sack, so around 5 September. The duration of the siege was not previously known with certainty. This dating fits well with the known fact that the prince was already on his way to Limoges on 27 August “in our dwellings” (en nostre logis) at La Rochefoucauld, an expression next found in his letters when he was before the walls of the City of Limoges.39 The word “logis” had a specific meaning in medieval French. According to the classic dictionary of Old French compiled by Frédéric Godefroy, “logis” meant “dwelling for an army, encampment.”40 The prince’s quickness to react suggests he already had solid information on the future surrender of this place to the French or, as Froissart suggests, that he was already in the process of gathering an army made up of Englishmen, Gascons and Poitevins at Angoulême41 in order to free the City of Limoges when it was besieged by the French in August (from 21 to 24 August). After the sack of Limoges, we can note that the captal de Buch, constable of Aquitaine, and the seneschal of Aquitaine, Thomas Felton, returned to Angoulême via Saint-Junien (23 September 1370),42 by the road between Limoges and Angoulême that had been previously taken by the prince’s army and where we also find La Rochefoucauld. This road still exists as the route nationale N141. Furthermore, the letter gives the name of the French leaders who led the garrison and were taken prisoner during the assault, adding the name of one “Sauvage de Villiers”43 to the three other names that were given by Froissart:

39 40

41

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TNA, C 61/114, m. 2. A gift of the prince to Richard Fillongley. La Rochefoucauld-en-Angoumois, arr. Angoulême, dép. Charente. Dictionnaire de l’ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle, ed. Frédéric Godefroy (Paris, 1879), p. 15: “logement pour une armée, campement, troupe campée.” According to Froissart, the prince learned about the submission of the City of Limoges while he was at Cognac, but he was more probably at Angoulême: in June 1370 the prince was at Angoulême. See The National Archives (TNA), Kew, Gascon Rolls C 61/94, m. 5. He was mentioned as being at Cognac after the sack of Limoges in October 1370. He lodged in the castle of Cognac. Arxiu del Regne de València/Archivo del regno de Valencia (ARV), Valencia (Spain), Mestre Racional 9610, fol. 150r. Letter of the captal de Buch and Thomas Felton to Gaston Fébus concerning the ransom of the count of Denia (Saint-Junien, 23 septembre 1370). Saint-Junien, arr. Rochechouart, dép. Haute-Vienne. The road used by the prince and his army between Angoulême and Limoges passed via La Rochefoucauld and Saint-Junien. Either the Norman Jean de Villiers, nicknamed “Sauvage,” lord of Vendeuvre (arr. Caen, dép. Calvados), or his kinsman Guillaume de Villiers, also nicknamed Sauvage de Villiers, lord of Tessel (arr. Bayeux, dép. Calvados) and Anneville-en-Saire (arr. Cherbourg, dép. Manche).

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Johan de Villemur,44 the captain of the garrison; Huc de la Roche;45 and Roger de Beaufort.46 In 1384, the last-mentioned still owed a part of his ransom to the captal de Buch, Archambaud de Grailly, uncle of the previous captal, Johan III de Grailly, then constable of Aquitaine, who had taken him prisoner at Limoges.47 We can add to this short list of French men-at-arms known to have been taken prisoner on that occasion Hugues, son of Guy IV Damas, lord of Couzan, and councilor of the duke of Berry. Like the others he was ransomed, but was still a prisoner in September 1371.48 We also know the case of Johan de Thynière (Tinière), son of Aubert, lord of La Courtine, who had been taken prisoner alongside the bishop of Limoges, his uncle. Aubert de Thynière was in conflict for a long time with Simon de La Chassagne, lord of Mirambel, now considered “English,” and received his lordship with its castle partly to pay the ransom of Johan.49 The bishop of Limoges, Johan de Cros (d. 1383), a cousin of the

44

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Johan de Villemur (d. c. 1375), knight, son of the vicomte of Villemur (Villemur-surTarn, arr. Toulouse, dép. Haute-Garonne). He came from a family of North Quercy (dép. Lot). Villemur was the only man of the garrison of the City of Limoges mentioned in the Chronique des quatre premiers Valois, pp. 209–10. He is supposed to have fought a duel with John of Gaunt in a mine made underneath the walls of the City. The only mentions of him as a defender of Limoges are in the chronicle of Froissart and our letter. Our letter is the only source asserting clearly that Villemur was the captain of the garrison, Huc de la Roche and Roger de Beaufort being his subordinates. Huc de la Roche (d. 1398), knight, was the brother-in-law of the future pope Gregory XI (elected pope in December 1370). He occupied several offices at the pontifical court. He was lord of Tournoël (com. Volvic, arr. Riom, dép. Puy-de-Dôme) and the son of the lord of La Roche-Canillac (arr. Tulle, dép. Corrèze). Roger de Beaufort (d. 1391), squire. He was a brother of the future pope Gregory XI (elected pope in December 1370) and came from a family of Bas-Limousin (now dép. Corrèze). Gregory XI wrote several letters during several years to the Black Prince, Edward III, John of Gaunt, etc. in order to free his brother. Not all the Beaufort family was then pro-French, as their brother Guilhem-Roger de Beaufort, vicomte of Turenne, was still faithful to the English in 1371 if not 1372. “Procès-verbal constatant la remise faite le 8 mai 1384…,” Bulletin de la Société Archéologique et Historique du Limousin 38 (1891), pp. 395–400. Original copy of this transcription: AN, K//53/A, no.30 (Bordeaux, 8 May 1384). Roger had become in the meantime comte de Beaufort (Beaufort-en-Anjou, arr. Saumur, dép. Maine-et-Loire). Mentioned in Olivier Troubat, La guerre de Cent ans et le prince chevalier, le “Bon duc” Louis II de Bourbon, 2 vols. (Montluçon, 2001), 1:457, n.15. Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), Paris, Pièces Originales (PO) 913 Cousan 5. Couzan, com. Sail-sousCouzan, arr. Montbrison, dép. Loire. Thomas, “Comté de la Marche,” pp. 92–93, appendix no.VI (letter of Charles V, Paris, December 1370: AN, JJ 100, no. 855). And Ambroise Tardieu, Histoire de la ville, du pays et de la baronnie d’Herment, en Auvergne (Clermont-Ferrand, 1866), pp. 21–22 (mention of the letter of Charles V, 6 May 1372: AN, JJ 103, no.143). Aubert de Tynière the Elder was then already dead. Thus the castle and lordship of Mirambel were given to his eldest son Aubert de Thynière the Younger. La Courtine, arr. Aubusson, dép. Creuse; and Thynière, com. Beaulieu, arr. Mauriac, dép. Cantal. Before and c. 1350, this Aubert de Thynières the Elder and his men had several times attacked the lordship of Mirambel shouting “Guyenne!” (meaning: “Aquitaine!”), the war cry of the men of the English party in



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future pope Gregory XI,50 was also simply ransomed, despite his key role in the submission to the French, and a part of his ransom was paid by Charles V in February 1371.51 He obtained later high offices from the papacy in Avignon and was elevated to the rank of cardinal on 30 May 1371. According to the chronicle of Uzerche, the abbots of Saint-Martin and Saint-Augustin, whose abbeys were situated outside the walls of the City, were also taken prisoner during the sack, along with several servants (officiales).52 The cartulary of the consulat of Limoges asserts that “people of the Church” were took prisoners, particularly the bishop, the abbot of Saint-Martin, and the nuns of La Règle.53 The chronicle of Uzerche specifies that relics, liturgical garments, crucifixes and icons were pillaged during the sack.54 Of course, the riches of the lay inhabitants of the City would have been also pillaged. Bishop Johan de Cros probably negotiated the surrender of the City of Limoges with his cousin Roger de Beaufort and his cousin-in-law Huc de la Roche during the short siege of the City by the French (21–24 August). It is unlikely he took such a decision in advance. This familial link explains why Beaufort and la Roche served in the garrison in the City as subaltern captains to Johan de Villemur. Before being under the authority of Villemur, they together led a mounted troop of ninety-two men-at-arms they mustered before the City’s walls on 22 August, but had no previous connection with Villemur.55 When it appeared that the City of Limoges was on the verge of being besieged by the prince’s army, the bishop of Limoges sent one of his squires to meet the duke of Berry at Felletin on 27 August.56 Roger de Beaufort also went to meet the duke

50

51 52 53

54 55 56

Aquitaine. It was a relatively common use to cover the true origins of the attackers. See Guilhem Pépin, “Les cris de guerre ‘Guyenne!’ et ‘Saint Georges!’ L’expression d’une identité politique du duché d’Aquitaine anglo-gascon,” Moyen Âge 112 (2006), pp. 263–81. Mirambel, com. Saint-Rémy, arr. Ussel, dép. Corrèze. See the family tree of the Cros family in Daniel Williman, The Letters of Pierre de Cros, Chamberlain to Pope Gregory XI (1371–1378) (Tempe, AZ, 2009), p. 10. The career of Jean de Cros is summarized p. 11. He was bishop of Limoges from 1348 to 1371. On the cover of this book there is a picture of a ceremonial sword of Peyre (Pierre) de Cros (d. 1388), a younger brother of Johan de Cros, when he was archbishop of Bourges or archbishop of Arles, before he became cardinal in 1383, with the coat of arms of the Cros family on its pommel. In Peter Finer sale catalogue (2003). This coat of arms without colors is depicted on the seals of the two cardinals found on several documents kept at the Archives Départementales du Vaucluse, Avignon. Charles V paid 1,000 francs (Bois de Vincennes, 4 February 1371). See Gallia Christiana nova, 16 vols. (Paris, 1715–1865), 2:col. 533. Georges de Manteyer, “La suite de la chronique d’Uzerche (1320-1373),” Mélanges Paul Fabre (Paris, 1902), p. 415 [hereafter Uzerche]. Camille Chabaneau, “I. Mémorial du consulat,” Revue des langues romanes 38 (1895), p. 227. The abbey of Sainte-Marie de La Règle, a house for women, was the only ecclesiastical house in the City of Limoges. Uzerche, p. 415. See Hay, Bertrand du Guesclin, pp. 330–31. See Françoise Lehoux, Jean de France, duc de Berri, 4 vols. (Paris, 1966), 1:241, n.1.

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at Montluçon. He was paid some of his wages there on 30 August57 and was then despatched to Limoges, probably with a few reinforcements. In reality, the duke of Berry had no will to rescue the City of Limoges and probably had few men left to fight back the prince’s large army. But above all, he simply followed Charles V’s doctrine requiring French troops to avoid by all means any direct encounter or battle with large English armies. Not a single name of a civilian, clergyman or man-at-arms slaughtered during the sack of the City of Limoges is known to us. Yet we know the case of a citizen of the City who was taken prisoner during the sack and was thereafter imprisoned by the English. This is Guilhem Bourgès (Burgensis) who borrowed the great sum of 5 silver marks and 5 silver ounces in order to be released. We also know the names of other citizens of the City who had to relocate themselves in the Castle of Limoges after the sack: Johan Turnuol, Johan Boson (Bozonis) and Peyre Jugla (Jutglar). Hélias de Ballanguier went to live at Aixe, a place situated near Limoges.58 Moreover, the later documents found by Leroux do reflect systematic physical destruction using fire of the City of Limoges, of its churches (except for the convent of La Règle), and of the bishop’s palace by the prince’s army. In fact, citizens of Limoges were still complaining about this destruction well into the fifteenth century. Human casualties were forgotten, as they were useless in pleas to obtain tax exemptions from the king of France, such as the one made in 1394. In 1435, the canons of Limoges asserted with some exaggeration to Pope Eugene IV that their City was destroyed to such an extent that in 1370 that only five persons remained living there. The last remnants of the 1370 destruction only disappeared as late as the first half of the sixteenth century.59 The prince’s letter quoted above is dated by the prince from “his dwellings (logis) situated outside the City of Limoges.” We can imagine a camp with tents, but, according to Bonaventure de Saint-Amable, a seventeenth-century local historian, the prince was lodged at the monastery of Saint-Gerald, situated between the walls of the Castle of Limoges and the walls of the City on the south. His brother John of Gaunt was accommodated at the house of the Dominicans, also situated between the two towns, towards the south. His other brother, the earl of Cambridge, and his cousin, the earl of Pembroke, were accommodated with several lords of Aquitaine at the monastery of Saint-­ Augustin, situated at the north of the City, outside its walls.60 This description could be accurate, as the main troops were surely outside these locations in one

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BNF, Clairambault 11, no.701. Mentioned in Troubat, 1:457, n.15. Felletin, arr. Aubusson, dép. Creuse. Montluçon, chef-lieu d’arrondissement, dép. Allier. In Louis Guibert, Documents relatifs à l’histoire municipale de Limoges, Société des archives historiques du Limousin. 1ère série: Archives anciennes, 2 vols. (Limoges, 1897– 1902), 1:71. Aixe-sur-Vienne, arr. Limoges, dép. Haute-Vienne. Leroux, pp. 217, 223 and 227. Saint-Amable, Histoire de S. Martial…, p. 659. To locate this religious institution and the others mentioned there, see the map of Barrière, Atlas Historique Limoges.



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or several camps besieging the City. However, the term of “logis” employed by the prince in this letter rather suggests he was staying in a real camp situated before the City of Limoges.61 In fact, though this letter was sent to Gaston Fébus partly to inform him of the prince’s victory, it was sent above all to deal once again with the enormous ransom of the count of Denia, Alfons the Elder, who had been taken prisoner at the battle of Nájera on 3 April 1367.62 Gaston Fébus lent money or was guarantor63 to the count, who was a prisoner of the English between April 1367 and April 1372. (His son Alfons the Younger replacing him as prisoner from March 1372 to January 1392.) Gaston Fébus was a lord with great financial capacity, since he had obtained huge ransoms from the count of Armagnac, the lord of Albret and several other Gascon lords he had made prisoner at the battle of Launac (5 December 1362). This affair dominated many administrative records up to the beginning of the fifteenth century. The relationship between the prince and Fébus was an ambiguous one. The latter did homage to the former for his vicomtés of Marsan and Gabardan, but refused to do so for Béarn (1364). The prince was unable to force him to do so until the outbreak of the war with France in 1369. Thenceforward Gaston Fébus maintained a neutral stance and refused to join his enemies, the count of Armagnac and the lord of Albret, who led the pro-French revolt against the prince. The Fragility of a French Outpost in Limousin At the time, soldiers of the French party and local inhabitants of Limousin who had submitted to the French feared a counter-attack by the prince’s army. This was particularly true of the small town of Saint-Yrieix, which had submitted to Du Guesclin after an assault around August 1370.64 The Breton Alain de 61 62

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See above, note 39. On the ransom of the count of Denia, see Édouard Perroy, “Gras profits et rançons pendant la guerre de Cent Ans : l’affaire du comte de Denia,” Mélanges d’histoire du Moyen Âge dédiés à la mémoire de Louis Halphen (Paris,1951), pp. 74–80 ; Alan Rogers, “Hoton versus Shakell: a Ransom Case in the Court of Chivalry, 1390–5,” Nottingham Medieval Studies 6 (1962), 74–82; Martin de Riquer, “El arte de la Guerra en Eiximenis y el conde de Denia,” Medioevo y Literatura. Actas del V Congresso de la Asociación Hispánica de Literatura Medieval (Granada, 27 septiembre–1 octubre 1993), I, ed. Juan Paredes (Granada, 1995), pp. 171–89. On this ransom according to the registers of the counts of Denia-dukes of Gandia kept at the Arxiu del Regne de València/Archivo del regno de Valencia (ARV), Valencia (Spain), see Jaume Castillo Sainz, Alfons el Vell, duc reial de Gandia (Gandia, 1999), passim. Gaston Fébus granted a loan to the count of Denia in 1370. He received money from the count of Denia, but never paid this money to the Black Prince, Chandos or any other creditors of the count of Denia. In the end, he obtained 100,000 florins from this fraud. See Pierre Tucoo-Chala, Gaston Fébus et la vicomté de Béarn, 1343–1391 (Bordeaux, 1960), pp. 284–85. Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, arr. Limoges, dép. Haute-Vienne. According to Froissart, Du Guesclin took Saint-Yrieix for Jeanne de Penthièvre, vicomtesse of Limoges, against

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Beaumont,65 a cousin of Du Guesclin, had been installed as the captain of the place. On 24 September, without giving any details, he informed his kinsman, if he was not already aware, that the City of Limoges had definitely been taken by the English. Du Guesclin was at that moment travelling from Toulouse to Paris, where he was going to be made constable of France by Charles V on 2 October.66 On 24 September, he was in all probability quite close to Saint-Yrieix, possibly in the county of La Marche or in Bourbonnais, but it is clear that Beaumont was totally unaware of that, otherwise he would not have doubted that he would know for certain that the City of Limoges had fallen to the English. Beaumont’s letter was more focused on the fact he was forced to destroy by fire a Dominican house situated close to the “fort” of this town,67 which weakened its defense against a potential English siege. 68 But Saint-Yrieix never saw any English men-at-arms, as the prince’s army disbanded and the prince returned exhausted to Cognac69 via Angoulême, while his men went elsewhere to defend his principality from the French. The destruction of the Dominican house was a significant problem for Beaumont, as it was worth 80 gold francs, a sum he wanted the king of France or his brother the duke of Anjou to pay as, of course, he did not want to pay it himself and was surely unable to do so.

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the local garrison who held it for Jean IV de Montfort, duke of Britanny. See J. Froissart, 7:248–49. Du Guesclin also obtained the submission of Brantôme and Montpon in August 1370. A close associate of Du Guesclin, Alain de Beaumont was still captain of Saint-Yrieix in 1371, and was thereafter seneschal of Poitou in 1373–74 and seneschal of Toulouse in 1382– 83. See his biography in Philippe Contamine, Guerre, État et Société à la fin du Moyen Âge. Études sur les armées des rois de France, 1337–1494 (Paris, 1972), pp. 563–64. Letters, Orders and Musters of Bertrand du Guesclin, 1357–1380, ed. Michael Jones (Woodbrige, 2004), pp. 130–31, no. 352 (quittance of Du Guesclin, Toulouse, 14 September 1370) and no. 353 (made constable of France, Paris, 2 October). See the second letter published here below. The twelfth- or thirteenth-century tower of the Plô (la tour du Plô), built by the vicomtes of Limoges, which still exists today, was situated inside this “fort,” as the collegiate church of Saint-Yrieix also known as the Moustier. This “fort,” called today “castrum” or “enclos castral,” had walls made by the back of houses, not proper defensive walls, overhanging a moat. See the map of Saint-Yrieix in the seventeenth century in Rudi Molleman, Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche – les abécédaires du Limousin (Limoges, 2022), p. 24. It was a “fort villageois,” a defended area of a small town or village which was not as well fortified as a proper fortress, but allowing its inhabitants and those of the surrounding area to find a protective shelter against small groups of men-at-arms without siege machines. On them, see: Archéologie du Midi médiéval 39 (2021), numéro spécial: Les forts villageois du sud-ouest de la France (XIVe–XVIIe siècle). This “house” was probably situated on the other side of the fort’s moat toward the east, probably on the site where later in the seventeenth century was the convent of the nuns of Saint Clar or the neighboring convent of the Recollects. See the map of seventeenth-century Saint-Yrieix in Molleman, Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche, p. 24. On 10 and 11 October 1370, the prince was at Cognac: TNA, C 61/86, m. 8 and TNA, DL 42/13.



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The sack of Limoges was the last military expedition led, even nominally, by the sick Black Prince. The latter returned to England with his wife and his son in January 1371. The same month, the English led by John of Gaunt and the captal de Buch70 successfully completed the siege of the castle of Montpon (Périgord) whose garrison was led by Sylvestre Budes, another Breton cousin of Du Guesclin.71 This siege was the last major success of English arms in the principality of Aquitaine. The sack of Limoges was certainly not as deadly as Froissart described it, though it was a brutal assault where fighters were killed along with some civilians. If a qualification of the deeds of the Black Prince is needed, we do not intend to “clear his name.” That is not the task of a historian. The letter of the prince we publish here gives us several details we did not previously know. It completes the extensive compilation of texts on this topic by Alfred Leroux. His work demonstrates that the vast majority of the texts generated by the sack of Limoges dealt with the physical destruction of the City and complaints to obtain tax exemptions, the human casualties being forgotten quite quickly as they were not useful in this context. We would not remember this episode at all if the talented Jean Froissart had not given such a vivid account of the sack. Finally, the sack of Limoges was considered as the last victory of the Black Prince as, despite its brutality, it was carried out according to the laws of war. Thomas Walsingham compared the prince with Alexander the Great and mentioned the successful siege and destruction the City of Limoges as his last military feat after the battle of Crécy, the siege of Calais, the battle of Poitiers, and the battle of Nájera.72 If the sack of Limoges was intended to set an example, it did not prevent other places of Aquitaine from submitting to the French, either voluntarily or because they were forced to do so by surrounding French forces. English counterattacks were still possible after the sack of Limoges. Small French garrisons such that at Saint-Yrieix worried about being attacked and killed in a similar assault. In Saint-Yrieix Alain de Beaumont had to make a quick decision in burning a Dominican house that weakened the defense of its “fort villageois,” demonstrating that English forces were still to be feared. In the end, the sack of Limoges remains one of the most famous episodes of the fourteenth-century phase of the Hundred Years’ War and every new piece of information on it is always interesting for historians writing about this major conflict that defined the later Middle Ages and the Anglo-French relationship.

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Arxiu del Regne de València/Archivo del regno de Valencia (ARV), Valencia (Spain), Mestre Racional 9610, fol. 155v. Letter of the captal de Buch to the count of Denia (Montpon, 6 janvier 1371). Sumption, Divided Houses, pp. 97–98. Com. Montpon-Ménéstérol, arr. Périgueux, dép. Dordogne. Sylvestre Budes later became an important leader of Breton mercenaries in Italy. St. Albans Chronicle, pp. 36–37.

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Appendix 1) Letter of Edward, prince of Aquitaine and Wales to Gaston Fébus, count of Foix and vicomte of Béarn (at the prince’s dwelling at Limoges, 22 September 1370). According to Arxiu del Regne de València/Archivo del regno de Valencia (ARV), Valencia (Spain), Mestre Racional 11601, fol. 4v–5r, with in the notes the version copied in Mestre Racional 9610, fol. 149–149v. These two copies were made from an original written in French. The scribes of the count of Denia have used some Catalanized written forms to render some words of the original letters.73 De part le prince de Quitania et de Gales, Tres chier et feal cosin, pour ce que nous pensons ben que tousdis lettres vous mercis, oyrries74 boluntier bounes novelles de nos e de nostre stat, vulles savoyr qu’en partir de ceestes nos e nous75 dos freres, le duch d’Alencastre e le comte76 Cantabruge77, le comte de78 Penbroch e aussi nostre conestable e les autres senyors79 e gents80 de nostra81 ost estoyt82 sans83 e en bon poynt, loes en soynt84 nostre sires, desirants85 oyr de vos tous86 dis semblable novella. E tres chier e feal cosin, androyt dus87 autres novelles, por deça nos pensons commant vos aves bien 73

74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87

Some medieval Catalan specificities in the two copies of the Black Prince’s letter, the majority of them being common with the Langue d’Oc ones: the use of the cedilla which was unknown in fourteenth-century French; the use of the pronoun “ill” (doubling of the “l”); several words with silent ‘e’ at the end of these words which were changed into “a”; the form “havem” for the French “avons/avoms” (we have) that his purely Catalan or from the Langue d’Oc. This was not a French trait in the fourteenth century; use of the conjunction e for et (and); use of the word jorn instead of the French jour (day); use of the word dos for the French deux (two); use of the word senyor for the French seigneur (lord); use of the word sige instead of the French siège (siege); use of the word setembre instead of the French septembre (September); use of the word cosin instead of the French cousin (cousin); use of the word renegue coming from the verb renegar, in French renier, refuser (refuse); use of the word tocant instead of the French touchant (concerning); use of the word pleyetge instead of the French plège (guarantor). oyrriez. nos. comte de. Cantabrugge. comte. senyor. gens. nostre. estoyent. sanys. soyt. desirans. touts. des.



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oyi dire commant nos havons tenu sige devant88 nostra cité de Limoges, li qual sige dura bien embiro XV jorns, e jeodi le XIXe89 jorn de setembre gaaniams de saut la dite cité e totes les fortalezes d’icelle, loes en soyt nostre sires; e stoyt pris de dins l’avesque de Limoges, moss’ Johan de Vilamur qui stoyt capitayne de la dita cité, moss’ Rogier de Biufort90, moss’ Sauvage91 de Villers, monseigneur Ugues de la Roca92 e plusors autres cavalliers93 e gents d’armes, jusque au nombre de CC hommes d’armes, o plus, si come ills dient. D’autra part, tres chier e feal cosin, [5r] nos havem bien entendutz94 ce que script95 nos havets96 pour vous letras tocant97 le comte de Denie, si sacchiez, tres cher e feal cosin, que nous tenons fermament que de la soma por que l’avos vos stes98 oubligés99 devers nos de la finança du dit comte, vous farez100 por tielle101 maniera102 que nos auserons payons103 aus termes contenues104 en letres que les nous avons de vous e delli, si n’eest pas nostra entente de canier les oubligacions105 quelles nous avons de vous por les autres doyt106 vous nos havetz107 scrit, ne de randre l’argent que nos havem hau108, car ne soyt mie razon109, mays en cas que le dit comte falle110 a fere sos111 payamens112 a venir salonch le contenu des oubligacions113 que les nous avons de vous e delli. E sur ce114, ill renegue poyr115 soy rendre a nostra priso, nos lo pandroys voluntiers, assi com es contenu en les dites oubligacions. E tres chier e feal cosin, ill nos semble, que s’il alast vers sos116 senyors, e amis ill porroyt davant. XIX. 90 Bieufort. 91 Sauvatge. 92 Rocha. 93 ccccc. 94 entenduz. 95 scrit. 96 haves. 97 tochant. 98 Estes. 99 Oubligués. 100 Fares. 101 tiele. 102 manière. 103 payés. 104 contenus. 105 obligacios. 106 doynt. 107 haves. 108 haut. 109 rayson. 110 faylle. 111 ses. 112 payaments. 113 obligacions. 114 sce. 115 pour. 116 ses. 88

89

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Guilhem Pépin

le melchiez e le plus prestament pourchacer sa finance e descargier de vous e de ses117 autres pleyetges. Tres chier e feal cosin, nostre sires vos hayt toudis118 en sa guarde119. Douné sots120 nostre signet a nostre logis davant nostra cité de Limoges, le XXII jorns de setembre.

2) Letter of Alain de Beaumont to Bertrand du Guesclin (Saint-Yrieix, 24 September 1370) Archives Départementales de Haute-Vienne, Limoges, H 16. A vous monseigneur mossen Bertrant de Clequin, duc de Moulinez, comte de Longaville, lieutenant pour le roy de France, nostre seigneur, et monsseigneur le duc d’Anjo et pour ma dame de Bretange, vicomtesse de Limotgez, en Limosin et en Peregort. Je Alaeyn de Beumont, chevalier, capitayne pour vous en le ville de Sentery, vous noutiffie pour la teneur de cez lettrez que comme je ausse oy dez sertenez nouvellez que la Cité de Limotgez estoyt prinze pour les Angloys et comme ill aussent bonne volonté de venir a la ville de Sentery pour mettre le sietge, je au le conseulh de mez compaingons fis mettre le feu en une mezon, le quieul esteyt pres du ffort de Sentery, afin que lez enamis ne poussent pourter domptge pour la ditte meson aul dit fort, le quielle meson estoyt des frerez jacobins de Limotgez, et pour ce quar la ditte religion est ourdre de pouvreté, afin qu’ill ne soyent deperdent du tout de le ditte mezon, je fis jurer lez charpentierz et massons de le ditte ville que bien et loyalment estimessent la dite mezon, le quielle fu estimeye en ma presensse et de mez compaingons et dez autrez gens de la dite ville a IIIIxx francs d’our. Pour quoy, mon tres cher sengeur, vous supplie que vous vulliez fere payer a la dite religion la somma desus dite aul roy de France, nostre seigneur, ou monseigneur le duc d’Anjo, ou celli a qui vouz semblara, afin que je ne aye pechié de le dite religion. Donné a Sentery souz le seel du conestable en absence du mien le XXIIII jour de setembre, l’an mil ccclxx.

ses. tousdis. 119 garde. 120 souts. 117 118

7 To Fight on Horse or Foot? Dismounting in the Age of Chivalry Michael John Harbinson

This article explores the reasons why mounted men-at-arms might dismount to fight, individually or collectively, focusing mainly on the late medieval period. The interface between mounted and dismounted combat is examined together with the factors that led either to success or failure. The grounds for dismounting were varied, but the handling of the horses and concern for their safety remained a continuous thread that impacted on the course of events and frequently decided the outcome of engagements. Although generally associated with English armies of the Hundred Years’ War, dismounting to fight was, in fact, a well-established practice throughout Western Europe. Yet, no matter how courageous or experienced, when those on foot faced cavalry, the outcome could never be certain, hence the deployment of anti-equestrian devices, such as pits, caltrops, and stakes, to try to equal the odds. The most effective defense against cavalry, however, was the judicious use of terrain, particularly hedges and vineyards, and an analysis will be made of how these specific features were utilized. The armor of the period reflected a nation’s fighting preferences and in the most successful armies, men-at-arms transitioned easily between being on horseback or on foot and combined well with archers and other arms. The loss of this flexibility caused significant problems, as the English discovered to their cost.

Introduction The decision to fight on foot or to remain mounted depended upon practical considerations, as well as social, chivalric, national, and traditional norms, which sometimes conflicted with tactical sense. Mounted men-at-arms were essential for certain specific tasks. When acting as coureurs, they scouted ahead of the army and protected its flanks and foragers, engaged in reconnaissance in force, chevauchées, long-distance raids, and feigned retreats.1 Horsemen could also 1

Michael J. Harbinson, “Coureurs and Their Role in Late Medieval Warfare,” Journal of Medieval Military History 19 (2021), 147–90. Clifford J. Rogers, Soldiers’ Lives Through History: The Middle Ages (Westport, CT, 2007), pp. 84–85.

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find and fix enemy infantry formations until their own footmen were brought up, and were essential for a successful pursuit, while the low mobility of infantry made it the natural arm of defense.2 Traditionally, cavalry was the arm of the social elite, the equites or chevaliers and, as Jean Giraudoux noted, the most important part of the knight was the horse, which raised the warrior above his subjects, giving testament to his wealth, physical and psychological powers.3 According to Jordanus Ruffus (c. 1250): “No animal is more noble than the horse, since it is by horses that princes, magnates and knights are separated from lesser people and because a lord cannot fittingly be seen among private citizens except through the mediation of a horse.”4 Aspirations of the Mounted Man-at-Arms The principal martial aim of the mounted aristocracy was to meet their equals in lance-armed combat and to demonstrate prowess in front of their peers. This might be done in jousts of war prior to battle, as at Crécy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Paris (1360), or as an interlude during siege warfare, as at Arras (1414) and Rouen (1418).5 In addition, nobles could actively seek confrontation with the enemy by undertaking to be coureurs, whose activities, such as scouting, devastation and foraging, frequently brought them into contact with the opposition. A statistical analysis of skirmishing in four chronicles of the Hundred Years’ War has shown that during mobile operations such as devastation, foraging resulted in skirmishing 70 percent of the time and scouting 19 percent. Skirmishing also occurred in 42 percent of sieges, either in sallies or against a relief army.6 2

3 4

5

6

Clifford J. Rogers, “Frontier Warfare in the St. Omer Chronicle,” in Military Cultures and Martial Enterprises in the Middle Ages: Essays in Honour of Richard P. Abels, ed. John D. Hosler and Steven Isaac (Woodbridge, 2020), pp. 231–32. Stephen Morillo, Warfare Under the Anglo-Norman Kings 1066–1135 (Woodbridge, 1994), p. 154. Cited in Philippe Contamine, War in the Middle Ages, trans. Michael Jones (Oxford, 1984), p. 126. Jordanus Ruffus, The Care of Horses (c. 1250) cited in Andrew G. Miller, “‘Tails’ of Masculinity: Knights, Clerics, and the Mutilation of Horses in Medieval England,” Speculum 88 (2013), p. 962. Knighton’s Chronicle 1337–1396, ed. and trans. G. H. Martin (Oxford, 1995), p. 176. Sir Thomas Gray, Scalacronica 1272–1363, ed. and trans. Andy King (Woodbridge, 2019), pp. 182–83, “iusterent de guere,” p. 101 for Alnwick (1341), pp. 173, 177 for Fresnay and others. Achmet D’Héricourt, Les sièges d’Arras, histoire des expéditions militaires (Arras, 1844), p. 52. Chronicon Galfridi Le Baker de Swynebroke, ed. Edward Maunde Thompson (Oxford, 1889), pp. 159–61: morem hastiludiis guerraiis; “the customary pre-battle tilt,” The Chronicle of Geoffrey le Baker of Swinbrook, trans. David Preest (Woodbridge, 2012), p. 122. Jehan de Waurin, Recueil des croniques et anchiennes istories de la Grant Bretaigne, ed. W. Hardy and E. L. C. P. Hardy, 5 vols., Rolls Series (London, 1864–91), 2:250, for Rouen. Ronald W. Braasch III, “The Skirmish: A Statistical Analysis of Minor Combats during the Hundred Years War, 1337–1453,” Journal of Medieval Military History 16 (2018), 123–57.



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Men-at-arms, nobles, leaders, and even kings were keen to act as coureurs, as their activities provided excellent opportunities for the excitement of chivalrous lance-armed combat, rescues, captives, lucrative ransoms, and personal glory.7 Skirmishing gave the mounted man a considerable advantage against those on foot, allowing him to demonstrate all his equestrian skills, the horse being well adapted to the constant wheeling and turning movements a “thing that naturallie horses doo love.”8 Being mounted also made it easier to advance or retire, allowing skirmishing in a “bonne manière.”9 Cavalry performed well against infantry in skirmish and small-unit actions. Smaller groups of horsemen tended to remain together and were better able to screen their approach against missiles. Being more maneuverable, they could easily circle round to attack the flanks and rear with a greater chance of catching those on foot unformed.10 Foragers were particularly vulnerable to horsemen as their activities involved dispersal. Consequently, they required strong cavalry support of their own, especially when near the enemy, thus setting the stage for numerous mounted chivalric encounters. In the quest for chivalric renown mounted combat and noble deeds were inextricably linked, indeed, the words were cognate: cheval, chevalier, chivalry.11 When the knight errant, William Marmion, arrived at Norham seeking adventure, Thomas de Gray remarked: “It is more fitting that chivalric deeds should be done on horseback than on foot, whenever this can be suitably done,” and pointed towards the besieging Scots. Marmion charged out against the Scottish host and, with a predictable irony, was wounded in the face, unhorsed and had to be rescued by the garrison.12 In the eleventh-century Chanson de Roland, combat takes place almost entirely upon horseback, with the archbishop praising mounted deeds: Valour like this becomes a knight of breed That bears his arms and rides a goodly steed.13

7 8 9

10 11 12

13

Ibid., pp. 140–41. Rogers, Soldiers’ Lives, pp. 84–85. Sir Thomas Bedingfield, The Art of Riding According to Claudio Corte (London, 1584), cited in R. H. C. Davis, The Medieval Warhorse (London, 1989), pp. 114–15. Georges Chastellain, Oeuvres, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove, 8 vols. (Brussels, 1863–66), 2:242, as the Burgundians noted at the siege of Oudenarde (1452): “we are on horseback, and the Gantois being on foot are unable to harm us, while we can cause them considerable grief.” Jürg Gassmann, “Thoughts on the Role of Cavalry in Medieval Warfare,” Acta periodica duellatorum 2 (2020), 166. Matthew Strickland, War and Chivalry: The Conduct and Perception of War in England and Normandy, 1066–1217 (Cambridge, 1996), p. 23. Scalacronica, p. 83: “qe chevalry en soit fait à cheval, qe à pee ou couenablement ceo purra faire.” Robert W. Jones, Bloodied Banners, Martial Display on the Medieval Battlefield (Woodbridge, 2010), p. 172, suggests that Marmion’s rescuers were on foot, which would considerably enhance the irony, although this is not specifically stated. The Song of Roland, trans. Dorothy L. Sayers (Harmondsworth, 1957), p. 123.

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Sir Thomas Malory, himself a knight, greatly applauded “men that can beat other men in armour on horseback with lance and sword.”14 At Blore Heath (1459), it was only when the Lancastrians discovered that their mounted charges had gained “little honor and less profit” that they decided to dismount.15 Many deeds which took place on foot, such as Warwick’s skirmish with Tanneguy du Chastel near Chaumes-en-Brie in 1419, were subsequently depicted as having occurred on horseback.16 A fifteenth-century copy of Froissart depicts Crécy as a cavalry engagement, while an illustration of Agincourt in the Saint Albans Chronicle shows the English as mounted.17 Tobias Capwell has noted that the relief of Henry V in Westminster Abbey (1422–1431) depicts him charging chivalrously on horseback, although it is unlikely that he ever led a mounted charge.18 The concept remained current in the twentieth century, with the poster for Laurence Olivier’s 1944 wartime film, Henry V, showing both sides at Agincourt engaged in chivalrous mounted combat. The desideratum of the nobility was to participate in a mounted charge with couched lance on the field of battle where stirrups, and the development of the arrêt de cuirasse during the second half of the fourteenth century, enabled heavy cavalry to deliver blows of unprecedented force.19 Good horses played a crucial role in these scenarios, providing the mobility necessary to achieve surprise in damaging flank and rear attacks, as well as barging aside the mounts of their opponents, knocking down enemy footmen and crushing them beneath their hooves. As Knighton noted, the intention of the well-armed French cavalry at Trégarantec (1342) was “to crush under their horses’ feet those of our men who were not mounted.”20 Archers, in particular, were singled out for this treatment, as at Poitiers (1356), Valmont (1416), Verneuil (1424) and on many other occa-

14 15

16 17

18 19

20

Quoted in Richard W. Kaeuper, Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe (Oxford, 1999), p. 289. Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 5:320: “peu a leur honneur et ancores moins a leur prouffit.” Since our topic concerns general medieval military practice, the accuracy of sources, such as Waurin and Froissart, in particular instances does not matter too much as they are nonetheless describing what they expected or found credible, based on their understanding of the generalities of warfare in their own day. The Beauchamp Pageant, ed. Alexandra Sinclair (Donnington, 2003), pp. 130–31. Anne Curry, Agincourt a New History (Stroud, 2005), illustration 119. Matthew Strickland and Robert Hardy, The Great War Bow from Hastings to The Mary Rose (Stroud, 2005), p. 229. Tobias Capwell, Armour of the English Knight 1400–1450 (London, 2015), p. 19. François Buttin, “La lance et l’arrêt de cuirasse,” Archaeologia 99 (1965), 77–178. Malcolm Vale, War and Chivalry (London, 1981), pp. 118, 128: the arrêt de cuirasse gave heavy cavalry a new lease of life, so that “the lords of battle could rule the field in the fifteenth century as they had rarely done before.” Michael Harbinson, “The Lance in the Fifteenth Century: How French Cavalry Overcame the English Defensive System in the Latter Part of the Hundred Years War,” Journal of Medieval Military History 17 (2019), 141–99. Knighton’s Chronicle, pp. 40–41: “opprimere nostros qui pedibus laborabant sub conculcacione pedum equorum suorum.”



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sions during the Hundred Years’ War.21 At Agincourt (1415) the archers were to be knocked over by the barded breasts of the horses.22 Powerful horses that could sustain wounds on behalf of their master played a crucial role in combat: knocking down opponents, breaking barriers and pike shafts, and facilitating escape.23 William Marshal’s horse carried on despite seven lance wounds, while at Beauvais (1472) Jean de Salezard’s mount brought him to safety despite being mortally wounded.24 In the thick of battle horses were found to be “as loyal to their masters as if they had been men,” for “a brave man, mounted upon a good horse, may do more in an hour of fighting than ten or mayhap a hundred could have done on foot.”25 Indeed, “noman sothly dare put himself in presse withouten horse.”26 During the suppression of the Jacquerie (1358), the rebels were beaten down both by lances and the vigor of the horses: “la rompirent aux glaives et à la force de leurs chevaulx.”27 Thomas de Gray felled opponents with blows from his lance and from the shock of his horse: “de hurt du cheval, et de sa launce,” while the exploits of Jacques de Lalaing against the Gantois are described in similar terms.28 For “a strong and hardy horse doth some time more damage under his master than he with all his weapons.”29 Unsurprisingly, strong bodies of well-armed horsemen might rightly consider themselves invincible. The principal tactical aim of knightly cavalry was to break through the enemy lines, then turn around and repeat the exercise, a movement known as roulement

21

22 23

24

25 26 27 28

29

Le Baker, Chronicon, pp. 143, 148: at Poitiers, the intention of the French cavalry was “ad sagittarios conculcandos,” and “prostratos calcaribus equinis conculcare.” For Valmont, Chronique du religieux de Saint-Denys. Le règne de Charles VI, trans. M. L. Bellaguet, Collection de documents inédits sur l’histoire de France, 6 vols. (Paris, 1839–52), 5:756: “aut equorum pedibus conculcatis.” Thomas Basin, Histoire de Charles VII, ed. C. Samaran, 2 vols. (Paris, 1933, 1944), 1:94 for Verneuil: “multis eorumdem Anglorum prostratis ad terram,” and Formigny 2:140: “omnes ipsos Anglicos prostraverunt et jugulaverunt.” Anne Curry, The Battle of Agincourt, Sources and Interpretations (Woodbridge, 2000), p. 52, citing Walsingham. Jean Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, roi de France, 3 vols. (Paris, 1858), 3:146, on the coursier chosen by the Pucelle. Jean de Bueil, Le Jouvencel, ed. C. Favre and L. Lecestre, 2 vols. (Paris, 1887–89), 1:131. History of William Marshal, trans. Nigel Bryant (Woodbridge, 2016), p. 111: the horse was wounded in the shoulders, neck, and chest. M. Dupont-White, Le Siège de Beauvais 1472 (Beauvais, 1848), p. 33. Gutierre Diaz de Gamez, The Unconquered Knight, trans. Joan Evans (1928, repr. Woodbridge, 2004), p. 11. John Lydgate, “Horse, Goose and Sheep,” in H. Breymann and J. Shick, Münchener Beiträge zur Romanischen und Englischen Philologie (Leipzig, 1900), p. 103. Chronique des quatre premiers Valois (1327–1393), ed. Siméon Luce (Paris, 1861), p. 75: “rompoient et abatoient,” by “la radeur des chevaulx.” Scalacronica, p. 68. Olivier de la Marche, Mémoires, ed. H. Beaune and J. D’Arbaumont, 4 vols. (Paris, 1883–88), 2:239, “les combatoit de sa main et de son cheval et plusieurs en abatit par terre.” Sir Thomas Elyot, The Book Named the Governor (1531; repr. London, 1962), p. 64.

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perpétuel.30 This was the ideal mounted scenario, an exhilarating war ride back and forth through the enemy in a constant rolling motion, unhorsing mounted opponents on the way, like Siegfried in his battle with the Saxons, riding “through the enemy, there and back, three times,” or Pedro I at Toledo.31 The French did the same at Gerberoy (1435) and the Picards at Calais (1436).32 The maneuver’s value lay in constant motion, ensuring that the horseman was a difficult target, adding force to his blows, and allowing him to select his opponents.33 The action was essentially a replication of that recommended by Duarte I of Portugal on the tournament field, riding from one end to the other, then turning to see what was happening before picking an appropriate target.34 The tactic was considered less tiring to the horse than a series of successive, abrupt changes of direction. At Bovines (1214), where, according to William le Breton, knights were encouraged to think of the tournament, roulement perpétuel happened on a large scale.35 The combination of horse and man created such a powerful unit, considered equivalent to seven or ten footmen, that opponents whether on horseback or on foot did their utmost to break it down, either by trying to unhorse the rider or more commonly by injuring and killing his mount.36 Being the larger target, horses were deliberately subjected to injuries from both crossbows and longbows, pierced by lances and swords, stabbed by daggers in close mounted combat, and struck with war hammers. As Pietro Monte stated: “fools aim their blows at the rider not the horse, whereas the opposite is done by the wise.”37 Moreover, when knights desired not to kill but to capture their fellow men-atarms, the horses of their opponents were targeted instead. At Bourgthérould (1124) and Lincoln (1217) crossbowmen were specifically ordered to shoot at the mounts of the opposing knights, whose destriers were slaughtered, so that their riders could be captured and ransomed.38 Although William Marshal could have 30 31

32

33 34 35

36 37 38

J. F. Verbruggen, The Art of Warfare in Western Europe During the Middle Ages, trans. Sumner Willard (Woodbridge, 1997), p. 103. The Nibelungenlied, ed. and trans. A. Hatto (London, 2004), p. 39. Cuvelier, The Song of Bertrand du Guesclin, trans. Nigel Bryant (Woodbridge, 2019), p. 285: through the enemy lines and back again, sending everyone crashing into the dust. La chronique d’Enguerran de Monstrelet, ed. L. Douet d’Arcq, 6 vols. (Paris, 1857–62), 5:122: “piercing and disrupting the column many times so that they were unable to reform.” Frederich W. D. Brie, ed., The Brut or The Chronicles of England (London, 1908), in 2 pts, 2:575–76: riding “thrughe oure meyny, in and out again, and smote doun many fotemen.” Gassmann, “Cavalry in Medieval Warfare,” p. 168. Ibid. Duarte I of Portugal, The Book of Horsemanship, trans. Jeffrey L. Forgeng (Woodbridge, 2016), pp. 133–34. Sir Charles Oman, A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, 2 vols. (London, 1978), 1: 483: “the whole encounter must have borne a great resemblance to a vast tourney.” Strickland, War and Chivalry, p. 112. J. F. Verbruggen, “The Role of Cavalry in Medieval Warfare,” trans. Kelly DeVries, Journal of Medieval Military History 3 (2005), 51. Pietro Monte’s Collectanea, trans. Jeffrey L. Forgeng (Woodbridge, 2018), p. 145. Strickland, War and Chivalry, pp. 141, 155, 169: captured knights could not be rescued



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easily killed the future Richard I near Le Mans in 1189, he dispatched his horse instead. The action was designed to prevent further pursuit, but the deliberate slaying or mutilation of a horse was often seen as a way of debasing its owner.39 A clear indication of the honor and status associated with man and horse was demonstrated at the surrender of La Réole (1346), when the French garrison bought horses from the victorious English at an extortionate price so that they would not have to walk before their conquerors.40 Against infantry, the principal aim of cavalry was not necessarily to kill, but to penetrate, break open, and pass through their formation, causing disorder and isolation: “séparer, diviser et ouvrir, abatre et occire.”41 The mounted auxiliaries who followed up could then finish things off, their lighter armor enabling them to dismount in place of their masters either to take a captive or dispatch a fallen foe. Failure to “passer oultre” and achieve a breakthrough often led to a pile-up, stagnation and disaster.42 A further advantage of being mounted, and one claimed by Xenophon in the Anabasis as the sole benefit of cavalry, was to facilitate flight.43 The annals of medieval warfare list some spectacular escapes. Pedro the Cruel’s superb Syrian horse Percefer not only sent his enemies crashing to the ground at Toledo but could also outrun the mounts of any of his foes. Percefer is credited with saving his life four times in one day.44 At Anthon (1430), the Prince of Orange’s intrepid steed took its wounded rider to safety across the fast-flowing Rhône.45 While Robert de Vere escaped his enemies “with wonderful daring” near Radcot Bridge (1387) when, mounted on a swift horse, he discarded sword and armor to plunge into the Thames.46 On many occasions, only the better mounted escaped.47 At Aljubarrota (1385), a “fresh courser” took the king of Castile to safety.48 Horses

39 40 41 42 43

44 45 46 47 48

when most of the horses had been killed. William Marshal, tr. Bryant, p. 197. It was also sometimes easier to capture rather than kill a well-armored opponent: John Gillingham, “Surrender in Medieval Europe: An Indirect Approach,” in How Fighting Ends: A History of Surrender, ed. Holger Afflerbach and Hugh Strachan (Oxford, 2012), p. 22. William Marshal, tr. Bryant, pp. 154–55. Les Chroniques de Sire Jean Froissart, ed. J. A. C. Buchon, 3 vols. (Paris, 1879), 1:201. Jones, Bloodied Banners, p. 142. Monstrelet, La chronique, 1:363. Le Jouvencel, 1:162: “quant les premiers estoient reboutés, le surplus ne y fasoit jamais beau fait”; 2:36. Xenophon, An.2.4.6. in Xenophon, Anabasis, Loeb Classical Library, trans. and ed. Carleton L. Brownson and John Dillery (London, 2001), p. 243: Xenophon clearly knew the value of horsemen but was trying to encourage his men who were despondent at having no cavalry of their own. Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, pp. 285–92. Philippe Gaillard, La Bataille d’Anthon 11 Juin 1430 (Annecy-le-Vieux, 1998), pp. 51–54. Knighton’s Chronicle, pp. 422–23. Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 2:258, when the French attacked the siege lines at Rouen (1418–19), only those with “bons chevaux” escaped. Froissart, Chroniques, 2:432.

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were also “salvacioun to many a wothi Knight” during sieges.49 When Vennes (1342) was about to fall several nobles, including Olivier de Clisson, saved themselves by mounting and fled the town via a postern into the surrounding countryside.50 Similarly, the count de l’Isle, besieged in Bergerac by the earl of Derby, fled on horseback to La Réole at night with most of his men-at-arms.51 The besieged might also use their horses to sally forth at a critical moment in a devastating mounted attack to confound their enemies. At Auberoche (1345), Sir Frank Halle issued forth from the castle with every available horseman to support the relief force and complete his opponent’s defeat.52 Similar mounted actions led to sieges being abandoned at Cravant (1423), Chavensy (1436), Calais (1436), Beauvais (1472), Vesou (1477) and La Laye (1492). Cavalry were important in siege warfare as not only could they bring about a successful sally by utilizing speed and surprise, but they were also the most effective means of countering it. Besiegers, forced to send their horses away due to inclement weather (Meaux, 1421–22), lack of fodder (Louviers, 1431), or because, as at Orléans (1428–29), their presence was considered superfluous, effectively handed the initiative to the enemy. In an age when it was difficult to maintain a close siege, horsemen were the most important factor in contesting the battle for supply that often determined the outcome. Disadvantages of Being Mounted Horses were expensive items, requiring extensive care and specific dietary requirements, being the first to suffer when provisions ran low. They were also extremely prone to adverse weather conditions: “for one cold or rainie night might ruine the Cavallrie, nothing hurting a horse sooner than cold or wet.”53 Horses, particularly stallions, had minds of their own and would often refuse to preserve ranks, or might shy or swerve at a crucial moment and spoil a lance strike, as exemplified at the joust at St. Inglevere.54 If pressed too closely together they might cause one another to trip or unhorse an adjacent man-atarms by catching on his spurs, while if separated too widely they would lack the cohesion necessary for a breakthrough. At full gallop, it was sometimes impossible to get a horse to stop and there are numerous instances of individ49 50 51 52 53

54

Lydgate, “Horse, Goose and Sheep,” pp. 41–42: “Hors, in cronycles who so loke ariht/ Have be salvacioun to many a wothi Knight.” Froissart, Chroniques, 1:170. Ibid., 1:186. Alfred H. Burne, The Crécy War (1955; reprint, Westport, CT, 1976), pp. 104–05. Burne, Crécy War, p. 111. John Cruso, Militarie Instructions for the Cavallrie (1632, repr. Amsterdam, 1968), p. 65. Chronique des quatre premiers Valois, p. 114: on the great storm that killed men and numerous horses. Scalacronica, p. 185 on events of 1360. Knighton’s Chronicle, p. 179, where 6,000 horses are lost. Sir John Froissart, Chronicles of England, France and Spain, trans. Thomas Johnes, 2 vols. (London, 1848), 2:434–37.



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uals being carried into enemy towns during a pursuit and being captured or killed, such as the English knight who pursued the townsmen into Aire (1347).55 Similarly, an English gentleman “and a spere” followed the chase so hard to the gates of Gravelines that his horse took him into the town “whether he wole or no,” while a squire named Lucas followed the Picards through the barriers into Ardres and was slain.56 The corollary was that it was difficult to get medieval cavalry to rally and reform after a charge, although this was possible with smaller more disciplined groups, who were less likely to disperse and where there was better command and control.57 Thus, at Othée (1408), 400 Burgundian mounted men-at-arms not only engaged in a successful flanking attack but returned to the field to secure the final victory, while at Nivelle (1452), only the return of some Burgundian coureurs from the pursuit prevented a disaster.58 When cavalry failed against infantry it was often due to poor leadership, tired horses, difficult ground, and the inability to gain the necessary speed.59 All these were elements that contributed to the French defeats at Crécy and Agincourt. The most dangerous situation for a rider was being brought to a halt when the lance could not be used, and he was forced to defend himself and his mount with a sword. Surrounded by hostile infantry he could easily be pulled from his horse and dispatched, or subject to deadly close-range longbow fire. A rider thrown from a wounded mount might fall among the enemy ranks or, as at Crécy, be killed or pinned beneath his fallen steed.60 Cavalry, particularly individuals riding white horses, were targeted by artillery, especially when close to the walls of an enemy town.61 At Quesnoy (1340) and Goguel (1340) the cavalry retreated following a barrage of artillery and crossbow bolts: “fearing for their horses.”62 John the Fearless and Le Jouvencel considered it inadvisable to engage in battle near towns for this very reason, while the latter emphasized that horsemen could not perform well in street fighting.63 55 56 57 58

59 60

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62 63

Rogers, “Frontier Warfare,” p. 227. The Brut, 2: 575–76. Morillo, Warfare Under the Anglo-Norman Kings, pp. 154–55, p, 155, n. 68. Monstrelet, La chronique, 1:362–63. Richard Vaughan, John the Fearless: The Growth of Burgundian Power (1966; repr. Woodbridge, 2002), pp. 59–63. Chastellain, Oeuvres, 2: 269–76. Louis Edward Nolan, Cavalry, Its History and Tactics (1854; repr. Yardley, 2007), p. 200. Chronique des quatre premiers Valois, p. 16. Andrew Ayton and Philip Preston, ed., The Battle of Crécy, 1346 (Woodbridge, 2005), p. 374. William the Lion was captured near Alnwick in 1174 being trapped beneath his fallen horse. Talbot was brought down by a gunshot while riding a white hackney at Castillon (1453). Also, white horses were more easily spotted in the dark. In the First World War, they were commonly painted with potassium permanganate making them a less conspicuous dirty brown. Froissart, Chroniques, 1:98–99: “car ils redoutèrent le trait pour leurs chevaux.” Vaughan, John the Fearless, p. 149. Le Jouvencel, 2:63 on Cravant, 2:248, on the restrictions imposed in street-fighting.

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There were many occasions when it was thought better to dismount, the reasons for so doing being frequently conjoined, with the fate of the horses often a prominent concern. Verbruggen considered that the principal reason for knights dismounting was to strengthen the foot soldiers and give them courage, for, in general, “medieval foot soldiers could not hold their own against heavy cavalry.”64 He argued that men-at-arms might also dismount when outnumbered otherwise they would be driven from the field, and when terrain made it more favorable to fight on foot. These reasons, however, can be developed and enlarged. Sometimes there was no choice but to fight on foot, especially if the horses had been killed, sent away, perished from lack of fodder, or had died during a sea crossing. The latter proved to be a significant problem during the Crusades so that knights whose horses had died in transit formed up behind the cavalry to give support and be supported by them. Delbrück argues that this was a common occurrence in Syria where horses were in short supply.65 During the Great Chevauchée (1373), nearly all the horses died from lack of fodder, leaving even some knights on foot, who, due to the exigencies of the march, rapidly discarded both armor and weapons.66 A similar situation occurred during the English retreat from Orléans.67 The ease of mounted escape was inextricably linked to one of the principal reasons for dismounting, which was to demonstrate both to one’s own side and to the enemy that this was to be a fight to the finish, a powerful message designed to preclude flight. As Matthew Strickland has noted: the difficulty of escaping once dismounted, and hence the necessity to fight more resolutely, was regarded by contemporaries “as a principal reason for drawing up knights on foot.”68 The concept of riding to battle and then dismounting to fight was a long-­ established principle of Anglo-Saxon warfare, subsequently incorporated into Anglo-Norman military tradition. Jim Bradbury, however, considered that the tactic developed from Frankish methods of warfare, rather than being of English origin, as the latter were not trained to fight on horseback, although acknowledging “some influence from that quarter.”69 The soldier-emperor, Maurice, 64 65 66 67 68 69

Verbruggen, “The Role of Cavalry,” p. 69. Hans Delbrück, History of the Art of War, trans. Walter J. Renfroe Jr, 4 vols. (London, 1990), 3:272: as at the battle of Hab (1119). Michael Prestwich, The Hundred Years War (London, 2018), p. 109. Chronique de la Pucelle ou Chronique de Cousinot, ed. M. Vallet de Viriville (repr. Geneva, 1976), p. 291. Strickland, War and Chivalry, p. 169. Jim Bradbury, “Battles in England and Normandy,1066–1154,” in Anglo-Norman Warfare, ed. Matthew Strickland (Woodbridge, 1992), p. 193. Matthew Bennett, “Wace and Warfare,” in Anglo-Norman Warfare, ed. Matthew Strickland (Woodbridge, 1992), p. 244, cites Wace’s remarks that the English did not know how to joust or carry arms on horse-



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noted that the Franks disdained flight and if outnumbered or hard pressed on horseback dismounted to fight at a prearranged signal, fighting on foot being their preference.70 According to Orderic Vitalis (1075–1142), “a mounted soldier who has dismounted with his men will not fly from the field; he will either die or conquer.”71 Such exhortations had a tactical side, the main purpose being to counter an attack by cavalry, something which horsemen alone were unlikely to achieve. Strengthening the infantry with dismounted men-at-arms in combination with archers and some cavalry was far more likely to succeed. Knights consistently dismounted part of their force at Tinchebrai (1106), Brémule (1119), Bourgthéroulde (1124), Lincoln (1141), and the Battle of the Standard (1138), where they were intermixed with archers.72 Stephen Morillo has suggested that the successful dismounting of men-atarms was only possible with a strong central authority, such as that provided by the Anglo-Norman kings, who could counter the natural tendency of knights to fight on horseback, and the development a cadre of trained infantry, who trusted each other not to run away.73 Experienced and trusted companions were far more likely to stand firm.74 Hence, Henry I’s instructions to his footmen to enable them to deal with mounted opponents in 1101.75 Otherwise, placing valuable knights among unreliable footmen was an unacceptable risk. The heroic dimensions of dismounting to fight are enshrined in the Old English poem The Battle of Maldon (AD 991). When Earl Byrhtnoth orders the horses to be driven off, it is an indication that this will be a fight to the end. When the earl is slain, his thegns fight on until they can no longer hold their weapons, fulfilling their oath in the mead halls to die alongside their lord: “This I vow, that I will not flee a single foot hence, but will press on, though knowing the fight is hopeless.”76 Their waning strength and increasing resolve

70 71 72 73

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back. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, trans. and ed. G. N. Garmonsway (London, 1960), pp. 185–86, in 1055, the Hertfordshire levies fled before a spear was thrown as they were made to fight on horseback. Maurice’s Strategikon, trans. George T. Dennis (Philadelphia, PA, 1984), p. 119. Orderic Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, ed. and tr. Marjorie Chibnall, 6 vols. (Oxford, 1969–80), 6:350–51. Cited in Strickland, War and Chivalry, pp. 168–69. Bradbury, “Battles in England and Normandy,” p. 193. Stephen Morillo, “The Age of Cavalry Revisited,” in The Circle of War in the Middle Ages: Essays on Medieval Military and Naval Histry, ed. Donald J. Kagay and L. J. Andrew Villalon (Woodbridge, 1999), pp. 51–55: “strong infantry depended upon strong government.” Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 6.4.15, ed. F. M. Stawell, trans. Henry Graham Dakyns (Scotts Valley, CA, 2004): “Those who trust each other will stand firm and fight without flinching, but when confidence has gone, no man thinks of anything but flight.” Clifford Rogers, “The Role of Cavalry in Medieval Warfare,” unpublished article, pp. 22–23. Morillo, “Age of Cavalry Revisited,” p. 51, citing William of Malmesbury. E. V. Gordon, The Battle of Maldon (London, 1964), pp. 23. 57, ll. 246f. Beowulf and Maldon are the only two Old English poems where the heroic attitude is fully described and realized.

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are expressed in haunting lines.77 Less memorable, however, but equally important are the sections that relate to the unraveling of the whole situation following Byrhtnoth’s death, when the sons of Odda, not only flee the field, but do so by appropriating their lord’s horses, precipitating a partial rout.78 The Germanic code demanded that such heinous actions incur a lifetime of exile and disgrace, as they undermined the whole social ethos and its military foundations. The participants in the crime forfeited their place within society.79 Such sentiments continued among English armies well into late medieval times and beyond: the laws of Cnut prescribed death for those who fled the battle, deserting their lord and comrades, a stricture reiterated in Leges Henrici Primi.80 As the strength of English armies lay in cohesive, disciplined, dismounted combat, unauthorized ‘roodes’ or ridings out, cries of “havoke,” “mounte” or “to horse,” that might disorder and endanger the whole host incurred severe penalties.81 Similar sanctions relating to flight or leaving the ranks were contained in the Burgundian ordinances when they were intending to fight on foot before Paris (1417).82 At Aljubarrota (1385), although the nobles pledged to die on the field with their king, knights were sent round the Anglo-Portuguese army to ensure steadfastness and to stress that cowards would be beheaded, “for one faint-heart discourages two dozen good men.”83 However, while dismounting was intended to discourage flight, it could not, as at Maldon, prevent it either because some fugitives reached their horses, or because not everyone had dismounted: “for it is a bad battle where no one escapes.”84 Mounted flight was particularly infectious, especially among 77 78

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80 81

82

83 84

Ibid., p. 61, ll. 312–13: “Our courage shall be greater, our spirits keener and our minds more resolute as our strength grows less.” Ibid., pp. 54, 56. The flight of Godric and his brothers on the earl’s horses led part of the army to believe that Byrhtnoth was fleeing the field. The fugitives made for the safety of the wood, which according to Gordon, was less than 2 miles from the battle site, which suggests that the horses were probably stationed half to three-quarters of a mile from the fighting. Tacitus, On Britain and Germany, trans. H. Mattingly (Harmondsworth, 1948), p. 112: “as for leaving a battle alive after your chief has fallen, that means lifelong infamy and shame.” Strickland, War and Chivalry, p. 118. Anne Curry, “The Military Ordinances of Henry V: Texts and Contexts,” in War, Government and Aristocracy in the British Isles, c.1150–1500, Essays in Honour of Michael Prestwich, ed. Chris Given-Wilson, Ann Kettle and Len Scales (Woodbridge, 2008), pp. 242–43. Sir Harris Nicolas, The History of the Battle of Agincourt (1832; repr. London, 1970), Ordinances of Henry V, appendix VIII, pp. 33–41. Maurice, Strategikon, p. 33, thought battle cries could lead to the ranks breaking up. Matthew Bennett, “The Development of Battle Tactics in the Hundred Years War,” in Arms, Armies and Fortifications in the Hundred Years War, ed. Anne Curry and Michael Hughes (Woodbridge, 1994), pp. 17–18. Froissart, Chroniques, 2:426: “car un mauvais cœur en décourage deux douzaines de bons.” Froissart, Chroniques, 2:431: “car male est la bataille dont nul a’ échappe.”



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those of noble standing, as they tended to draw others along with them. At Crécy (1346), when the wounded king Philippe left the field, numerous others followed, while at Poitiers (1356) when the Valois royals fled, a great many others also departed.85 At Agincourt the whole of the French mounted rearguard fled.86 When Sir John Fastolf and the bastard of Thian fled at Patay (1429), without striking a blow or putting a foot to the ground, many men-at-arms followed them at full gallop.87 Fastolf was disgraced and lost the Order of the Garter, although this was later reinstated.88 His behavior, however, stands in marked contrast to that of Lewis de Robessart, who, although on horseback, refused to escape when surprised by a large French force near Conty (1430). Robessart dismounted and made a “most valiant defense,” while most of his command sought refuge in the nearby castle. Considering that flight would demean the order to which he belonged, Robessart fought on until overwhelmed. The incident is related by Ghillebert de Lannoy (1386–1462), a veteran of Agincourt, who stated that he would prefer to be found among the dead than listed among the fugitives.89 In parallel with Fastolf, the Prince of Orange was deprived of the Order of the Golden Fleece, following his flight at Anthon.90 Again, when the English were defeated at Formigny (1450), only those who were mounted escaped. The departure of their cavalry could have a devastating impact among the remaining footmen, who, as at Waleffe (1349), might panic and flee.91 It is against this background that the earl of Warwick’s flamboyant gesture of killing his horse at Ferrybridge (1461) should be judged, indicating that he was prepared to share the same fate as those on foot.92 Ironically, at Barnet (1471),

85

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Knighton’s Chronicle, pp. 62–63: “similiter et multi alii fugerunt.” Clifford J. Rogers, “The Battle of Poitiers, (1356),” Desperta Ferro. Revista de historia militar y política. Antigua y medieval 38 (2016), 28–38. Chronique de Jean le Fèvre, Seigneur de Saint-Rémy, ed. François Morand, 2 vols. (Paris, 1876–81), 1:257. Monstrelet, La chronique, 4:329–30 : “avecque grant nombre de leurs gens, ne se mirent point à pied.” Stephen Cooper, The Real Falstaff, Sir John Fastolf and the Hundred Years War (Barnsley, 2010), p. 65. Oeuvres de Ghillebert de Lannoy, ed. Ch. Potvin (Louvain, 1878), pp. 457–60: “pour garder l’honneur de saditte ordre et aussy la sienne,” p. 460: “J’aime mieulx, se je suis en bataille, que on me quière entre les mors que ce que j’ai soye escript ou nombre des fuians.” Chastellain, Œuvres, 2:134–35. Vale, War and Chivalry, pp. 15–27. The esteem in which Robessart was held is demonstrated by his lavish tomb situated in Westminster Abbey. Chroniques de Jean Molinet, ed. J. A. Buchon, 5 vols. (Paris, 1827), 4:47, gives a further example of loyalty to one’s men when the seigneur de Berle died fighting among the footmen near Hasebain (1489), because he neither wished to surrender nor to abandon them. Juliet Barker, Conquest, The English Kingdom of France (London, 2009), p. 152. Rogers, “Frontier Warfare,” p. 230. Edward Hall, The Union of The Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and Yorke (1548, repr. London, 1809), p. 253: “Let him fly that will, for surely I will tarry with him

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it was his brother Montagu who made the heroic last stand, while Warwick was taken “somewhat fleinge.”93 The deep suspicion that surrounded those who left the field on horseback surfaced centuries later when the English once again unfurled their banners against spear and shield. During the Zulu War (1879), the frequent occurrence of officers escaping on horseback when their men on foot were killed caused serious disquiet within the high command. Sir Garnet Wolseley considered it “monstrous” that an officer could ever be justified in abandoning his men to their fate, and drafted an order subsequently read out to every regiment within the empire: The more helpless a position in which an officer finds his men, the more it is his bounden duty to stay and share their fortune, whether for good or ill. It is because the British officer has always done so that he possesses the influence he does within the ranks of our army.94

Clearly, the sight of Henry V and his entourage dismounting to take their positions among the ranks at Agincourt (1415) and the personal examples of Salisbury and Bedford, desperately fighting on foot, to reverse the impending collapse at Verneuil (1424), not only animated their men but had a lasting impact upon the traditions of the British army.95 Dismounting when outnumbered seems to have been an ancient practice with Leo the Wise, Byzantine emperor from 886 to 912, echoing Maurice’s earlier statement about the Franks, who when hard pressed in a cavalry fight, “will turn their horses loose, dismount, and stand back-to-back against superior numbers, rather than flee.”96 When outnumbered in both individual and general actions it was considered preferable to dismount, as being on foot provided a more stable fighting platform, making it less likely that the rider’s horse would be targeted while giving the knight the freedom to strike accurate, disabling, two-handed blows at his opponents and their mounts. Xenophon encouraged

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that will tarry with me.” Although Hall, writing eighty years after the event, is the sole source of this information, the sentiment remains relevant. Three Chronicles of the Reign of Edward IV, ed. Keith Dockray (Gloucester, 1988): The Arrival of King Edward IV, p. 20. Yorkist propaganda may have influenced the account as Edward IV was saddened by Montagu’s defection to the Lancastrians. Adrian Greaves, Crossing The Buffalo, The Zulu War of 1879 (London, 2005), p. 265. There is much a medieval knight would recognize in the Zulu War: spectacular escapes on loyal but fatally injured horses, the numerous heroic actions of rescuing dismounted men, which was how Sir Redvers Buller won the VC, and the opprobrium attached to mounted flight and the taking of another’s horse. During the darkest days of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War, when a German breakthrough seemed inevitable, Sir John French, the commander-in-chief, felt his last remaining option was to ride to the front and die alongside his men. Cited in Bradbury, “Battles in England and Normandy,” p. 192. Maurice, Strategikon, p. 119.



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his men not to fear cavalry, as: “we, standing on firm ground, shall strike with greater force and be more likely to hit.” 97 It was also thought best to avoid or to dismount against opponents who were more experienced, better armed or better horsed.98 In the fifteenth century, the Castilians, although preferring to fight as cavalry, dismounted when inferior in numbers or when terrain offset the advantages of being on horseback, as at Vélez-Málaga (1469).99 The English usually dismounted during the Hundred Years’ War not simply as it was part of their military system but also because they were usually outnumbered. The disadvantages of remaining on horseback when confronted by several opponents on foot are illustrated in the Lays of Marie de France. Sir Thibault tries to take on several robbers without dismounting, but his palfrey is killed, and he is thrown on his back while his wife is violated.100 Malory’s La Cote Male Taile, again considerably outnumbered, dismounts so that his horse should not be slain, leading to a further closely connected reason for dismounting where the literature mirrored reality.101 Throughout the Middle Ages, it became standard practice that those who had been unhorsed or had their own horses slain should target the mounts of the enemy, as happened at Olmedo (1445).102 When William Marshal’s horse was killed, he continued to fight on foot with his back to a hedge and dispatched six of the enemy’s horses.103 Richard de Baskerville, having been unhorsed, protected both himself and his mount by using his sword to wound the horses of his French adversaries until he was rescued.104 The fear of having a valuable horse injured was a strong incentive to dismount, as highlighted by Malory: “so, Sir Tristram alit off his horse because they were on foot, that they should not slay his horse.”105 Sir Gawain threatened to kill Sir Marhaus’s horse unless he dismounted in words almost identical to those of Bertrand du Guesclin who, having already dismounted, wounded the horse of an English knight with his Xenophon, Anabasis, trans. Carleton L. Brownson, revised by John Dillery, Loeb Classical Library (London, 2001), 3.2.22, p. 243. Even in the age of stirrups well-directed blows could unbalance the rider or force the horse to rear. 98 Christian Henry Tobler, In Saint George’s Name, An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts (Wheaton, 2010), p. 144. Jean Cabaret d’Orville La chronique du bon duc Loys de Bourbon, ed. A. M. Chazaud (Paris, 1876), p. 210, at the siege of St. Brio the duke of Brittany tried to avoid combat against Olivier de Clisson as his horses were much smaller. 99 Ekaitz Etxeberria Gallastegi, “Dead Horse, Man-at-Arms Lost: Cavalry and Battle Tactics in 15th Century Castile,” Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies 12 (2020), p. 116, p 116, n. 81, at the sieges of Zúgar and Baza (1489) the Castilians dismounted their men-at-arms to fight the Moors amid the orchards and streams around the towns. 100 The Lays of Marie de France, ed. and trans. Eugene Mason, Everyman’s Library (London, 1966), pp. 168–69. 101 Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte D’Arthur, ed. John Rhys, 2 vols. (London, 1930), 1:304. 102 Gallastegi, “Battle Tactics in Fifteenth Century Castile,” p. 113. 103 William Marshal, tr. Bryant, p. 45. 104 Scalacronica, p. 183. 105 Malory, Morte d’Arthur, 1:371. 97

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sword, who had refused to do likewise.106 In the skirmishes described in the Scalacronica, the horses are targeted by the lances of the cavalry and especially by those on foot.107 Medieval fight books such as Fiore Dei Liberi’s Flower of Battle and the writings of Pietro Monte give numerous examples of how to counter a mounted opponent when armed with a spear, javeline, or sword. Cavalry were apprehensive of footmen with long spears, and, fearing for their horses and for themselves, might refuse to engage or, as at Vottem (1346) and Blore Heath (1459), decline to help their dismounted comrades.108 At Lunalonge (1349), French cavalry passed too close to the spears of the dismounted English and lost most of their horses, although they managed to appropriate those of their opponents.109 Hence, in both skirmish actions and larger engagements when one side dismounted, the other often followed suit to avoid injury to their mounts. Moreover, when cavalry had been engaged for some time with no prospect of a breakthrough, one side would dismount, followed shortly by the other.110 A further crucial reason for dismounting was to protect the horses from arrow fire, particularly that of the longbow, thus avoiding the chaos and disruption caused when missiles struck unprotected or poorly barded animals. Jean le Bel gives this as the reason that the French dismounted at Poitiers, because English bowmen always targeted their horses, as at Crécy.111 Wounding the horses in this way might be used to provoke a disorderly attack.112 In addition, unless struck at close range, dismounted men-at-arms could scarcely be harmed by the longbow, for, as at Cocherel (1364) and Auray (1364), they were “too well armed and shielded.”113 Pavises, deployed by those on foot, also helped to negate arrow fire, a tactic that led to the defeat of Godefroy de

106 Ibid.,

1:113. Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, p. 75: the horse reared and threw its rider. pp. 83–85, 159–161. 108 Verbruggen, The Art of Warfare, pp. 47–48. The True Chronicles of Jean le Bel 1290–1360, trans. Nigel Bryant (Woodbridge, 2011), p. 194. Claude Gaier, “La cavalerie lourde en Europe Occidentale du XIIe au XVIe siècle. Un problèm de mentalité,” Revue internationale d’histoire militaire 31 (1971), p. 387, stresses that heavy cavalry desired to protect their horses at all costs. Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 5:320: after the failed cavalry attacks at Blore Heath, the Lancastrians were ordered to dismount and to try again but many remained on horseback, and, refusing to help their colleagues, left the field. 109 Scalacronica, pp. 159–61: the French cavalry came so close to their ranks that “every Englishman who wished to, struck a horse dead with his lance.” Jonathan Sumption, The Hundred Years War, 4 vols. (London, 2015), Trial by Fire, 2:50. 110 “Le Livre des trahisons de France,” in Chroniques relative à l’histoire de la Belgique sous la domination des ducs de Bourgogne, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove, 3 vols. (Brussels, 1873), 2:155. 111 Chronicles of Jean le Bel, tr. Bryant, p. 226. 112 As at Arsuf (1191) and Agincourt (1415). 113 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:480, “si fort armés et pavoisés contre le trait,” 1:494. Sumption, Trial by Fire, p. 519. At Flodden, the Scottish men-at-arms “were so cased in armour, the arrows did them no harm”: Ruthall cited in George Goodwin, Fatal Rivalry, Flodden 1513 (London, 2013), p. 205. 107 Scalacronica,



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Harcourt in 1356.114 The longbow was, therefore, essentially an anti-cavalry weapon, as witnessed by the huge numbers of horses killed at Crécy, while many others sustained arrow wounds.115 Moreover, it was common to dismount when faced with the prospect of being overtaken in flight, which again could be an individual or a collective action. Etienne Hart, an English mercenary, when hotly pursued by an irate merchant armed with a long-handled axe and two burly companions, following an argument over oats, realizing his vulnerability on horseback, decided to dismount. Although wounded, he successfully defended himself with drawn sword.116 At Ardres (1352), the English, having raided near St. Omer, dismounted to face their pursuers, as their horses were blown.117 In 1358, when the lord of Pinon with sixty men-at-arms encountered a large body of Navarrois near Creil, they initially sought safety in flight. The Navarrois, however, being better mounted, were about to overhaul them, when Pinon, noticing a ditch and hedged enclosure, gave the order to dismount, crying out that it was better to remain there and take the chance of war, than to be slain or captured in flight. Such actions usually presented ordered ranks against the pursuers, who, as at Ardres, might attack piecemeal, and by forcing them also to dismount prevented their further advance and bought time for aid to be sought, as happened at Creil.118 When surprised or ambushed it was again possible to try to negate the enemy’s initial advantage by forcing him to dismount, underlining that concern for the horses was a constant theme in many scenarios. Heliot de Plaisac, with a mixed force of English and Gascons, was surprised by the French near la Rochelle (1378). When several of his men were unhorsed at the first charge, he cried out “On foot, on foot! Let no man fly, but send away the horses; for if the day be ours we will have horses enow, and, if we lose it, we shall not want any.” The Gascons and English drew up on foot in good order and the French did the same for they were afraid that their horses would be wounded by the spears and swords of the enemy.119 Heliot was eventually defeated and captured but only after a prolonged struggle at close quarters. At Valverde (1385), the Portuguese, significantly outnumbered, gave their horses to the varlets and, forming a compact formation, leveled their lances at the Castilians, who, after considerable thought, dismounted likewise.120 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:365. Giovanni Villani, “New Chronicle,” in The Battle of Crécy A Casebook, ed. Michael Livingston and Kelly DeVries (Liverpool, 2015), p. 121, states that more than 1,600 horses were killed belonging to the counts, barons and knights, “without including the more than 4,000 mounted esquires,” while nearly all those who escaped had arrow wounds. 116 Paul Le Cacheux, ed., Actes de la chancellerie d’Henri VI concernant la Normandie sous la domination Anglaise 1422–1435, 2 vols. (Paris, 1907–08), 2:154. 117 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:295–96. 118 Ibid., 1:394. 119 Ibid., 2:51: The French also dismounted “car ils doutèrent de leurs chevaux perdre du fer des glaives.” Froissart, tr. Johnes, 1:562. 120 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:484. 114 115

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Similarly, in 1355 when Thomas Gray was ambushed by the Scots, all his men “lightting apon foote set apon them with a wonderful corage.”121 Again, when the captal de Buch was ambushed near Dreux (1360) by twenty-four French men-atarms, both sides dismounted, and after some intense fighting the English and Gascons were victorious.122 As at Poitiers (1356), dismounted combat usually resulted in protracted periods of brutal hand to hand fighting, leaving even the victors wounded or exhausted.123 At Bonneval (1370), “everyone on both sides was wounded near to death,” and despite their victory at Restellou (1346), most of the English were severely injured.”124 Some did not relish the prospect, and either fled if the first attack failed, or simply decided to ride on.125 The only honorable alternative to flight was death or capture.126 Thus, when those of higher rank found themselves in desperate situations it was generally considered better to dismount and fight on, in the hope of being recognized, taken prisoner and ransomed rather than risk being slain in a confused rout. Flight offered no safety because: “three good men will overpower and slay 12 runaways.”127 For in flight there is more danger than in the heat of battle, for, when anyone flies a pursuit is made and, if overtaken, he is slain; when in a battle, if the chances turn unfortunate, he surrenders, and is well taken care of as a captive.128

Strickland notes the high incidence of capture in engagements where knights dismounted or were unhorsed and fought on foot.129 Surrender in such circumstances was considered honorable. At Poitiers, King John was at pains to point out that he and his son had not been taken “lurking in a corner like criminals or fainthearted fugitives, but like noble knights.”130 Captors usually ensured that their prisoners were well-looked after, as their demise might deprive them of a fortune.131 However, attempting to surrender after intense fighting could be risky. When the earls of Salisbury and Suffolk, realizing that they were outnumbered, Scalacronica, pp. xxxix–xli, 141. p. 183. 123 Le Baker, Chronicon, p. 192, commenting on Poitiers, states that there was no one on our side who was not wounded or exhausted from the extreme effort of the day, apart from the 400 men under the prince’s banner, who had been kept in reserve, separate from the fighting. 124 Scalacronica, p. 185. V. H. Galbraith, “Extracts from the Historia Aurea and a French Brut (1314–1347),” English Historical Review 43 (1948), 214: “gravissime fuit vulnerata.” 125 Le Jouvencel, 1:151–54, Froissart, Chroniques, 1:693. 126 Verbruggen, The Art of War, p. 55, citing William le Breton. 127 Froissart, tr. Johnes, 2:119. 128 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:430; Froissart, tr. Johnes, 2:122. 129 Strickland, War and Chivalry, p. 169. 130 Le Baker, Chronicle, tr. Preest, p. 133. 131 Barker, Conquest, p. 218: the death of the badly wounded earl of Arundel, taken prisoner at Gerberoy (1435), was a substantial financial loss. 121

122 Ibid.,



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dismounted to fight and were eventually captured, one of their retinue was unchivalrously slain for his armor.132 During the Albigensian crusade, Lambert de Thury and his small force, having fought on after their horses were killed, agreed to surrender upon condition that they would not be separated, killed or mutilated, nor placed under another’s control but kept in honorable custody and ransomed. This highlighted the risks associated with surrender, and, in fact, the promises made to them were not fulfilled.133 Much depended upon the enemy. The Swiss were notorious for not taking prisoners, while battlefield murders and executions were a frequent occurrence in times of civil strife. At Towton (1461), according to Gregory’s Chronicle, forty-two captured Lancastrian knights were put to death, indicative of how difficult it was to escape when things went wrong on foot.134 Robert de Bellême took sadistic pleasure in torturing his captives, while Olivier, the Butcher of Clisson, rarely took prisoners, trying to kill Sir Thomas Grandison, who had already surrendered to Bertrand du Guesclin at Pontvallain (1370).135 Moreover, if a serious dispute arose regarding claims to prisoners, they could all be killed out of hand, regardless of wealth or status, as at Bressuire (1370).136 Froissart’s remarks on the safety of surrender contain a dreadful irony, as they were made in the context of Aljubarrota (1385), where although French prisoners were initially treated kindly, they were, as at Agincourt, put to death irrespective of rank when their captors felt threatened by further enemy forces.137 On both occasions these battlefield massacres were carried out by armies who had dismounted to fight and were less numerous than their opponents. To retain prisoners, it was necessary to have sufficient horsemen to keep them corralled, and whose additional height enabled adequate surveillance. Horsemen were also needed to herd, and work captured horses and cattle. This was problematic for the English in the later Hundred Years’ War, when, with fewer mounted men-at-arms than the French, they resorted to their traditional dismounted defense, particularly upon returning from chevauchée. In 1416, Sir John Fastolf raided within six miles of Rouen, taking 500 prisoners, but could not retain them when counterattacked. William de la Pole was defeated at la Gravelle (1423), being so encumbered with prisoners and cattle that troops would have been detached from the front line to guard them.138 At Pierepont (1422), English Froissart, Chroniques, 1:95. Gillingham, “Surrender in Medieval Europe,” p. 3: they were handed over to the count of Foix and kept in miserable conditions until ransomed. 134 The Continuation of Gregory’s Chronicle, in The Contemporary Chronicles of the Wars of the Roses, ed. Dan Embree and M. Teresa Tavormina (Woodbridge 2019), pp. 74–75. George Goodwin, Fatal Colours, Towton 1461 – England’s Most Brutal Battle (London, 2011), p. 173. 135 Strickland, War and Chivalry, pp. 199–200. Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, pp. 353–55: “the English hated Olivier de Clisson for he never gave them quarter.” 136 Ibid., p. 356: the 500 Englishmen who surrendered were put to death irrespective of rank. 137 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:431. 138 Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 3:22–24, Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, 1:15 Cous132 133

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archers captured numerous French men-at-arms, but were unable to hold on to them without cavalry.139 There was thus a brutal logic to the slaughter of captives at Agincourt and Aljubarrota, as large numbers of prisoners, some undoubtedly in armor, could pick up weapons from the battlefield and attack their captors, as happened at Vivoin (1434), where the English were defeated.140 All this was far removed from the chivalry of mounted combat where a noble opponent might be captured by seizing his horse’s reins and bringing him “hors de la bataille.”141 The heroic or Hollywood dismount occurred when riders spurred their horses into the mêlée, barging aside opponents, and then dismounted to continue the fight on foot, a common film scenario. The ploy avoided injury to a valuable mount and prevented being pulled from the saddle, as horses sometimes floundered when penetrating the first three ranks.142 The Nibelungenlied records that during the fight with the Saxons “many knights dismounted in the thick of it – Siegfried and Liudeger assailed each other on foot.”143 During the Black Prince’s Spanish campaign, his men were attacked by a group of French and Spaniards, who broke into the defensive formation on horseback and then dismounted and used their axes to complete the victory.144 At Aljubarrota (1385), the French tried the same tactic, penetrating the defensive position on horseback, then dismounting to attack the Anglo-Portuguese with battleaxes.145 Sir Archibald Douglas used his horse to charge into the English and then dismounted to wade into them with his two-handed sword.146 At Marchenoir (1427), the French charged double-mounted, so the men-at-arms riding pillion could be brought directly into the mêlée.147 The Book of Pluscarden considered that at Verneuil (1424), the Lombards, having broken into the English lines, should have then dismounted to continue the fight.148 inot, Chronique de la Pucelle, pp. 214–17: the French dismounted part of their force and used their cavalry to good effect. 139 The Cordeliers’ Chronicle in La chronique d’Enguerran de Monstrelet, ed. L. Douet d’Arcq, Société de l’histoire de France, 6 vols. (Paris, 1857–62), 6:313, each archer had captured two men-at-arms. Le Jouvencel, 1:73, 1:111, recommended that on the march the prisoners were followed by the mounted rearguard. 140 Monstrelet, La chronique, 5:102. 141 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:122, which was how the lord of Montmorency was captured. William Marshal, tr. Bryant, p. 118, when the Marshal performed the “chivalrous feat” of taking the bridles of two knights by the reins, holding them both in one hand. 142 Gassmann, “Cavalry in Medieval Warfare,” p. 162. This was the fate of single men-atarms who charged the archers at St. Remy (1412) and Compiègne (1430): Thomas Johnes, Monstrelet’s Chronicles of England, France, and Spain, and the Adjoining Countries, 2 vols. (London, 1853), 1:213, 1:480. 143 Nibelungenlied, tr. Hatto, p. 40. 144 Chronique des quatre premiers Valois, p. 177. 145 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:425, when they could make no further progress. 146 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:18. 147 Le Jouvencel, 1: XIII–XIV, 1:139 n. 1: Escallon is considered to be Marchenoir; 2:271–72. 148 Liber Pluscardensis, ed. Maurice Buchanan and Felix J. H. Skene, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1877), 2:272.



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Heroic dismounting also occurred when giving up one’s horse to rescue one’s lord. This was a highly chivalrous but extremely dangerous action that often led to capture or death, so that some were unwilling to make the sacrifice.149 At Bouvines (1214), Peter Tristan saved his monarch’s life in this manner, while at Mons-en-Pévèle (1304), the knights who tried to help Philippe le Bel remount were all killed.150 At Seminara (1495), Ferdinand of Aragon, trapped beneath his fallen steed, was rescued by Juan de Altavilla, who gave the king his own horse, only to be killed immediately afterwards.151 Dismounting also took place when fighting at the barriers and following victory in order to secure prisoners and booty, the latter being theoretically the role of the auxiliaries. Victory was a particularly dangerous time as it was often accompanied by inattention and dispersal. After their initial success at Vivoin (1432) the English became disorganized. Some remained mounted, while others dismounted to take prisoners, or were loading their horses with captured weapons and booty when they were suddenly faced with French cavalry.152 Unable to decide whether to remain mounted or fight on foot, they were routed by the French charge. The English were caught in a similar situation at the moustier of Saint-Denis in Anjou (1441).153 Le Jouvencel advised that a section of men-at-arms should always remain mounted to provide cover in these situations.154 The wooden barriers that screened the entrance to a town were often a place where a stand was made, as they offered some protection from missiles and provided an obstacle to horsemen. In 1345, the Gascons, having captured the earl of Oxford, were hotly pursued by the English, but dismounting at the barriers of Périgord, made a successful defense with their lances.155 Bernard Courant did the same after killing the lord of Languerant.156 At Plancy (1372), a more elaborate construction known as “la barrière amoureuse” acted as a small fortification behind which fifty French knights chivalrously defended themselves against a greater number of English in what was a staged but deadly combat with both sides on foot.157

149 Strickland,

War and Chivalry, pp. 103–04, p. 104, n. 37. Oman, History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, 1:484. Verbruggen, The Art of Warfare, p. 202. 151 William H. Prescott, History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, 2 vols. (London, 1841), 2:47. 152 Le Jouvencel, 1:142–46. Clifford Rogers, “Sir Thomas Dagworth in Brittany, 1346–7: Restellou and La Roche Derrien,” Journal of Medieval Military History 3 (2005), pp. 147–48, for Sir Garnier Cadouadal’s night attack at La Roche Derrien (1347). 153 Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, 2:20. 154 Le Jouvencel, 2:17, where the rearguard is given strict orders to stay together and not engage in looting. 155 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:189. Froissart, Chroniques, tr. Johnes, 1:131. 156 Ibid., 2:50–51. 157 Cabaret, La chronique du bon duc Loys, p. 51. 150

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Facing cavalry on foot was a fearsome prospect: just some wavering or uncertainty within the ranks and it was all over.158 Hence a variety of methods were used to fragment the charge, hopefully forcing the horsemen to pull up, turn round, or dismount. The Strategikon mentions pits, known as “horsebreakers,” which were about a foot in diameter and two to three feet deep, sometimes with sharp stakes set at the bottom. They were dug about three feet apart in alternate rows and could, as at Morlaix (1342), be concealed by covering with hay or brushwood.159 Pits were dug at Bannockburn (1314), Crécy (1346) and Formigny (1450) and were instrumental in the Scottish victory at Ancrum Moor (1545), where the leading horses stumbled and fell, while those following deviated into a bog to avoid the pile-up, or turned round and collided with their own infantry.160 Caltrops, also known as tribuli or chausse trappes, are described both by Vegetius and the Strategikon: made with four projecting iron spikes, as whichever way they were strewn on the ground, one spike would always be facing upwards.161 Sometimes several were tied together with cords, so that they could be deployed and collected more easily.162 In the later Middle Ages, they were mostly confined to siege warfare, or deployed in defense of a fortified camp. Hewitt gives an example of knights using their spurs as caltrops to prevent pursuit by horsemen.163 At the siege of Crespy-en-Laonnois, the dismounted Burgundian men-at-arms ensured that they were wearing iron sabatons, as caltrops were strewn everywhere.164 During the Ghent Wars (1452), the Burgundians were frequently forced to dismount to negotiate cornfields strewn with stakes and caltrops, as at Lokeren (1452) and Nivelle (1452).165 Caltrops were detrimental to both horse and man, but did not necessarily prevent a dismounted man-at-arms from fighting, as Andrew Trollope’s exploits at Second St. Albans (1461) demonstrate.166 Pits and caltrops were static defenses, and although safe Verbruggen, Art of Warfare, p. 188. Strategikon, p. 54. Knighton’s Chronicle, p. 43. Caesar used similar structures in a checkerboard formation to defend the siege lines at Alesia (52 BC). 160 Le Baker, Chronicle, tr. Preest, p. 73, at Crécy, the pits were one foot deep and wide. Gervase Phillips, The Anglo-Scots Wars, 1513–1550 (Woodbridge, 1999), p. 170. 161 Vegetius: Epitome of Military Science, ed. and trans. N. P. Milner (Liverpool, 1993), p. 105. 162 Maurice, Strategikon, p. 139. 163 John Hewitt, Ancient Armour and Weapons in Europe, 3 vols. (London, 1855–60), 1:172, 2:329. 164 Livre des trahisons, p. 150. 165 Chastellain, Œuvres, 2:253, 2:261–68, 2:269–70. There was a significant revival in the use of caltrops during the First World War where boards studded with the devices were used on the Western Front. Discarded nails also proved a considerable hazard to horsemen with up to 500 horses being injured in a week on one stretch of road alone: Simon Butler, The War Horse (Wellington, 2011), pp. 123–24. 166 Anthony Goodman, The Wars of The Roses, Military Activity and English Society 1452–97 158

159 Maurice,



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passageways were supposedly left through these areas, in the confusion of battle, they hindered an advance by the defending side, being equally injurious to both friend and foe.167 Stakes offered a potential solution but were difficult to erect on hard ground and needed to be repositioned or left behind if the army advanced. They might, as at La Gravelle (1423), fail to cover the whole position and could be knocked over by horsemen.168 Towns often placed strong chains across their streets, as at Reims (1359–60) and Carcassonne (1355) where there were as many as ten to twelve per road to prevent horsemen from passing, forcing the English to dismount and fight their way in on foot.169 Chains were also used to protect siege camps from mounted sallies.170 The general detritus of the battlefield, broken stumps, lance heads, and nails could also prove dangerous to horsemen. William Marshal was forced to dismount and appropriate a captured destrier when his own horse was made lame in this way.171 Finally, dead or fallen horses might obstruct the battlefield as at Worringen (1288), and were a recognized impediment to a mounted attack, as at Crécy (1346). Indeed, at Lincoln (1217), William Marshal ordered 200 of his men to kill their horses in order to form a defensive barrier against the French.172 Hedges and Vineyards While it took time to dig pits, cast caltrops and erect stakes, certain terrain features, such as hedges and vineyards, were readily available, often providing the additional benefit of forcing the enemy to dismount. Hedges played an important role in a foot-based defense both in formal battles and as an emergency ad hoc measure. They were particularly associated with the English, with haie becoming a metaphor for all their defensive arrangements, relating either to the men themselves, their stakes, carts, or to the horse-barrier at Verneuil.173 (London, 1981), p. 129. Trollope famously killed fifteen men despite having stood on a caltrop. 167 Maurice, Strategikon, p. 55. 168 Harbinson, “The Lance in the Fifteenth Century,” pp. 172–75. John France, Western Warfare in the Age of the Crusades 1000–1300 (Ithaca, NY, 1999), p. 174, at Falkirk, Scottish schiltrons were protected by stakes girded together with ropes to check cavalry, but ultimately this failed to prevent defeat. 169 Peter Hoskins, In the Steps of The Black Prince, The Road to Poitiers, 1355–1356 (Woodbridge, 2011), p. 63. 170 Jean de Bueil, Le Jouvencel, trans. Craig Taylor and Jane H. M. Taylor (Woodbridge, 2020), p. 133. 171 William Marshal, tr. Bryant, p. 118. 172 Ibid., p. 197. Verbruggen, Art of Warfare, p. 269. 173 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:239, on Crécy: “une si grant haie d’archiers et gens d’arms au devant que jamais ne peut passer.” Chartier Chronique de Charles VII, 1:18 on the stakes at Mortagne: “ils planterent une haie sur leur front de bandière pour se defender”; their carts, “une grande haye de leur charroy.” Le Fèvre, Chronique 2:85, for the horse-barrier at Verneuil: “en manière de haie.” Also, Journal d’un bourgeois de Paris, 1405–1449, ed. Alexandre Tuetey (Paris, 1881), p. 197: “la haie des chevaux.”

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Medieval French hedges, like those of the Normandy bocage, were tall, about six feet wide and often associated with ditches or sunken lanes. It was impossible to shoot through or over the hedges unless archers were on rising ground, as with the terraced banks or rideaux at Crécy.174 In smaller encounters, the usual deployment was to have dismounted men-atarms formed in a line with their backs to a hedge with archers positioned in front “l’ombre d’une haie,” or “au longe d’une haye.”175 Sometimes the positions were reversed with the men-at-arms in front and the archers behind, as when the English defeated Louis de Harcourt.176 At Mauron (1352), one of the larger engagements, the English deployed on a hill with the men-at-arms backed up to a hedge and the archers, with less protection, on the wings, one of which was swept away by French cavalry. Hedges were far more effective than stakes and ditches in stopping cavalry, as it was almost impossible to pass through them. Ditches could be jumped as at Berwick (1296) and Ardres (1351), but it was rare for horsemen to force their way through hedges, although a few did so at Poitiers (1356).177 Normally, an infantry formation required depth to force the horses to refuse but hedges obviated the need for this and could be defended with fewer men, as charging horsemen were unable to “passer oultre.”178 Instead, they were forced to pull up abruptly before reaching the English line, losing the necessary momentum to use the couched lance effectively. The riders would then have to turn away, exposing their mounts to attack when they could be hamstrung, foined in the belly, or made to rear so that their riders would be thrown. Stirrup leathers would be cut, reins severed, and the riders pulled from the saddle by bills. Those who dropped their lances and resorted to their swords could only usefully deploy them on the horseman’s right side and could not protect the horse’s front below its neck, their shorter weapons placing them at a disadvantage from infantry with spears.179 As Gassmann has pointed out, “any attack the horse makes exposes it to a counter-attack,” the horseman being faced with the problem of defending a large surface area without the increased capability of doing so,

174 Ayton

and Preston, The Battle of Crécy, p. 128. Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, 1:15, 1:30. Chronique Normande du X1V siècle, ed. Auguste and Emile Molinier (Paris, 1882), p. 105: “se mistrent le long d’une haie, laquelle ilz mistrent derriere leur dos.” 176 Chronique des quatre premiers Valois, p. 108. 177 Scalacronica, p. 37. Froissart, Chroniques, 1:295–96, 1:347: “Il y eut bien aucuns chevaliers et écuyers bien montés qui par force de chevaux passèrent outre et rompirent la haye.” 178 Gassmann, “Cavalry in Medieval Warfare,” p. 167, suggests a formation eight ranks deep would be sufficient for the horses to refuse as they would become bogged down in the first three. 179 Sydney Anglo, The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe (London, 2000), p. 255: in mounted combat, sword fighting was “severely circumscribed” because blows could only be delivered effectively on the horseman’s right. 175



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although barding provided some mitigation.180 However, in chance encounters it is unlikely that many horses were protected. Turning a horse once halted was a relatively slow process, exacerbated by the “unavoidable lag in communication” between rider and mount.181 All the while the horsemen and their mounts would be exposed to damaging close-range longbow fire from archers, supported by their men-at-arms, who were completely protected from the rear. It was also difficult to bring enough men to bear to threaten the flanks. Riding the length of the English line might enable the war lance to be used on the rider’s left side but would expose the horse’s flank to attack, while the bodies of horses killed in the first wave acted as a barrier impeding further incursions. Hedge protection was regarded as such an integral part of the English tactical system that at La Roche Derrien, Charles of Blois ordered all the hedges to be flattened and ditches to be filled for more than a mile around the siege lines so that the enemy archers would be obliged to fight in the open.182 According to Knighton, the French constantly strived to tempt the English to fight on an unobstructed battlefield without ditches, hedges, woods or marsh.183 Often scouts were sent out to see that the terrain was suitable before the French committed themselves to a cavalry charge.184 Waurin argues that William de la Pole might have avoided defeat at La Gravelle (1423), if he had managed to get his back to a strong hedge.185 Indeed, the English were considered past masters at finding suitable defensive positions where hedges could be incorporated into fortifications. At Aljubarrota (1385), the king of Portugal deferred to their advice where “grands arbres et de haies et de buissons” were integrated into the defense. As at Poitiers, a narrow opening was left through which the French cavalry would be crowded together to face well-ordered dismounted troops.186 Dismounting all or part of a force offered a greater chance of success against the hedge defense, but the French had to relearn the tactic in the second phase of the Hundred Years’ War, much to the exasperation of their chroniclers. In 1422, Jehan de Bellay with 200 combatants came across William Kirkeby with a force of sixty to eighty men. The English immediately took up a defensive position “au longe d’une haye.” A disorderly French cavalry charge was defeated because not a single man dismounted, “sans mettre pié a terre.”187 A similar attack upon William Hodenhal (1427), resulted in most of the French horses being killed by longbow fire.188 Des Ursins and Thomas Basin attributed these 180 Gassmann,

“Cavalry in Medieval Warfare,” p. 163. Ibid., p. 168. 182 Rogers, “Sir Thomas Dagworth in Brittany,” p. 142. Oman, History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, 2:154–55. 183 Knighton’s Chronicle, p. 19. 184 Rogers, “Frontier Warfare,” p. 230. 185 Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 3:22–24. 186 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:425. 187 Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, 1:15, 1:30. 188 Ibid., 1:52. 181

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early setbacks to inexperience.189 However, dismounting part of their force eventually brought the French success at Argentin (1432), Laigny-sur-Marne (1430), and Fresnay-le-Vicomte (1432).190 Hedges also provided a place of succor for the wounded where they would be safe from the ebb and flow of battle, as well as offering shelter from the elements. At Poitiers, the hedges not only concealed and protected the horses, but also the injured: “our men placed their wounded under bushes and hedges.”191 Towards the end of the battle, a severely wounded Lord James Audley was taken to a hedge where his armor was removed, and his wounds dressed.192 After Auray (1364), the count of Montfort and other nobles sought the shade of a hedge where they rested and disarmed. Banners and pennons were placed on hedges to act as a rallying point for those returning from the pursuit, as at Poitiers and Cocherel (1364).193 In the latter engagement the French targeted and captured the bush where the captal de Buch had raised his pennon, and thereby prevented his men from rallying.194 The hedged enclosure at Crécy where the baggage and horses may have been stationed is named le Guidon, or Knight’s Pennant on old maps.195 Fugitives from battle tried to save themselves by hiding in hedges, although, at Crécy and St. Omer, their pursuers sought them out.196 Hedges gave significant protection from arrow fire when they were incorporated into a defensive system, At Crécy, the hedged banks or rideaux may have been reinforced with wagons and carts covered with clothes and hides, with the hedges probably draped in a similar manner to increase shielding.197 In 1478 the French formed up behind a large hedge which gave protection from missiles until the English came up to fire from both sides.198 Hedges could be used in an ambuscade or as part of an aggressive defense, for, not only did they conceal an opposing force, but they made its numbers difficult to assess. In 1340 the earls of Suffolk and Salisbury were ambushed along a road flanked by ditches and thick hedges, so that they could neither turn back nor deploy.199 Near Liques (1374), John Harleston and twenty lances engaged in a feigned flight, luring the unsuspecting French towards a position 189 Jean

Jouvenal des Ursins, Histoire de Charles VI, roy de France, ed. Theodore Godefroy (Paris, 1614, repr. 1841), pp. 453, 455, the attacks were made by those who “n’avoient guieres veu du faict de guerre.” Basin, Histoire de Charles VII, 1:38. 190 Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, 1:120–22; 1:148; 1:163–64. 191 Le Baker, Chronicle, tr. Preest, p.129. 192 Froissart, tr. Johnes, 1:221. 193 Froissart, Chroniques, 1 :358, 1:497: “pour rallier leurs gens.” 194 Ibid., 1:481. 195 Ayton and Preston, The Battle of Crécy, pp. 365–66. 196 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:242. Rogers, “Frontier Warfare,” p. 235. 197 Chronique Normande: “leur charroy, et de fortes haies et d’autre targement.” Villani, “New Chronicle,” p. 117. Hedges were used for drying linen in the medieval period. 198 Molinet, Chroniques 2:142: English archers were fighting with the Flemings. 199 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:95.



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where English men-at-arms were drawn up in front of a hedge with archers to their front. After a prolonged struggle the French were defeated, but when the Sire de Chastillon arrived with 300 lances, who could have turned the battle back in their favor, he took one look at the hedge defense and rode on.200 French horsemen were wary of being too near hedges, which they might refuse to attack, preferring to move away into more open terrain.201 Hedges that formed an enclosure provided an even more formidable defensive position, as at Auray, where the English refused to attack the French encamped within an enclosed park.202 At Mont Epiloy (1429), the duke of Bedford ensured that both his flanks and rear were well protected by thick thorn hedges, so that although there was much skirmishing, the French decided not to attack. Such positions were frequently sought out as places of last resort, as at Valmont (1416) and Montargis (1427), where the defeated, secure from horsemen, slipped away on foot at night. Enclosures were the scenes of several last stands, as at Bressuire and Gerberoy (1435) where it took artillery and a combined assault of horse and foot before the French finally broke through.203 The battle of Coutances (1356) demonstrates the difficulty of overcoming such a position as well as illustrating some important principles of defensive positional warfare. Godefroy de Harcourt was returning from a chevauchée with a mixed detachment of English and Navarrois when he was pursued by a large French force. He correctly ordered his men to dismount, but the order was not fully obeyed and Pierres de Saquanville and others, seeing that they were considerably outnumbered, rode off. Left to fend for himself, Harcourt drew up his men in front of a hedge. Dismounting part of their force, the French advanced with their men protected by pavises against which the English archers wasted their arrows. Harcourt’s men failed to keep ranks and were defeated. The remnant with their leader retreated to an enclosure in a vineyard surrounded by strong hedges to make a further stand where despite severe fighting, the French were unable to enter. However, notwithstanding their promise to Harcourt, the dismounted men once again failed to maintain their order and eventually the greater part fled. Nevertheless, Harcourt continued to resolutely defend the only entrance until two Frenchmen remounted and charged him simultaneously with couched lances.204 The engagement demonstrates the difficulty of getting a contingent with mixed nationalities to obey the order to dismount; the need to maintain ranks when fighting on foot; the fighting capability of a single dismounted man-at-arms; the security provided by a hedged enclosure, espe-

200 Ibid.,

1:693.

p. 159. French were also aware of the defensive value of hedges. At Cocherel (1364), while waiting for the English to descend the hill, they took up a position with their backs to “a very thick hedge”: Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, pp. 139, 108. 203 Cabaret, La chronique du bon duc Loys, pp. 27–28, Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, p. 356. Monstrelet, La chronique, 5:118–23. 204 Chronique des quatre premiers Valois, pp. 66–67. Froissart, Chroniques, 1:364–66. 201 Scalacronica, 202 The

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cially when associated with vines; and that such a position could be overcome by a combination of horse and foot if longbow fire was negated. Engagements against a hedged defense were usually prolonged, exhausting affairs so that those who sought safety there, as at Valmont (1416) and Montargis (1427), were often left unmolested. Furthermore, when attacking such positions, the assailants often became so exhausted by their efforts that they were easily defeated by a relief force.205 Vineyards also provided considerable security from cavalry. They were common throughout France, including Brittany, apart from the most northerly provinces where they were replaced by orchards. Every church needed wine for the sacrament and wine was considered healthy. The vines themselves were grown on vertical poles or trellises. Dry stone walls were often placed around vines in order to hasten ripening, and brambles and thorns planted around them to protect the grapes from wild animals. When trees were used the vines could often grow so tall that it was possible to walk beneath them.206 All these factors hindered cavalry. Indeed, the combination of vines and hedges, “entre haies et vignes et buissons,” could, as at Poitiers, provide an almost impregnable defense against horsemen.207 The History of William Marshal gives a vivid picture of cavalry falling over vine stocks, with the horses throwing and trampling their riders.208 A vineyard defense could be overcome but only by dismounting and with careful planning.209 The proximity of vineyards to towns and castles had both advantages and disadvantages. During the siege of Clermont (1430), the vines were so close to a postern that small numbers of men could enter the town without being seen, while at Cravant (1423) they provided the French garrison with a means of escape, many with their horses.210 At Fontenoy (1412), the besieged sallied out through secret paths in the vineyards, while at Higueruela (1431), the Muslims deliberately deployed their forces in vineyards and olive groves to disrupt the charge of the Castilian cavalry.211 Vineyards also provided a perfect place for an ambush, as when the French under Rodrigo de Villandrado approached Bordeaux in 1438. The town was surrounded by vineyards with vines on trellises as “high as an arbour” in which the French concealed a substantial force. When the English left the city believing that their enemies were retreating, they were unexpectedly attacked, losing 205 Monstrelet,

La chronique, 3:171, for the strong thorn hedges at Valmont, 4:274, the vineclad hill at Montargis, Froissart, Chroniques, 1:394, Le Jouvencel, 1:151–54. 206 Wine in the Middle Ages, www.wineterroirs.com/2012/12/wine_in_the_middle_ages-.html. 207 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:340. 208 William Marshal, tr. Bryant, p. 78. 209 Sumption, Trial by Fire, 2:409, in 1359 Eustace d’Aubricourt, an English routier, dismounted to take up a position in a vineyard on rising ground, but was defeated by being attacked from three sides at once. 210 Monstrelet, La chronique, 4:420, Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 3:56–57. 211 Monstrelet, La chronique, 2:275. Gallastegi, “Battle Tactics in Fifteenth Century Castile,” p. 113.



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around 800 dead in the conflict that followed.212At La Croisette (1430), La Hire’s half-brother, with 400 men on fresh horses, charged and defeated the English, having surprised his opponents by using a track well screened with vines.213 Advantages and Disadvantages of Being Dismounted As mentioned previously, a major advantage of dismounting to fight was that it provided a stable platform from which powerful blows could be aimed at both horse and man, like the Black Prince at Crécy, piercing horses and bringing down their riders.214 Dismounting also enabled a more cohesive defense, allowing better command and control. The classic English tactic of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was the defensive-offensive, where archers, supported by dismounted men-at-arms, employed the devastating firepower of the longbow. The English could disorganize the opposing infantry, gall and incapacitate the mounts of the enemy, while their own horses were kept safely in the rear well out of the range of hostile missiles. Then, the English men-at-arms, with horses fresh and ready for action, could mount and charge in pursuit to complete the rout.215 Le Baker considered the idea of dismounting and keeping the war horses in reserve had been copied from the Scots after Bannockburn (1314).216 The system brought success at Dupplin Moor (1332), Halidon Hill (1333), Crécy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Homildon Hill (1402). The arrangement was not, however, the sole prerogative of the English: the Burgundians dismounted their men-at-arms and placed their archers and crossbowmen on the wings at St. Remy (1412), while Le Jouvencel recommended a similar deployment.217 Placing dismounted men-at-arms among the archers meant that the latter could continue firing until the very last moment or remain shooting over the shoulders of their comrades, thus maximizing the deadly close-range effect of the longbow against both horse and foot.218 There has been much debate as to how the archers and dismounted men-at-arms were deployed. In larger battles were the archers placed along the whole line, as in smaller engagements, in addition to being on the wings, where they could engage in crossfire without 212 Monstrelet,

La chronique, 5:355: “vignes estoient haultes comme treilles.” Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, 1:129: “tindrent leur chemin tout au long des vignes tout le plus couvert.” 214 Le Baker, Chronicon, p. 84, the prince is regarded as providing the perfect example: “equos perforando, equites prosterendo… et suis omnibus exemplum bene faciendi exibendo.” Archery also required a firm footing as it was practically impossible to draw a powerful longbow or reload a strong crossbow on horseback. 215 Ferdinand Lot, L’Art militaire et les armées au Moyen Age en Europe et dans le Proche Orient, 2 vols. (Paris, 1946), 2:428–29. 216 Le Baker, Chronicle, tr. Preest, pp. 46, 123. 217 Monstrelet, La chronique, 1:251–53. Le Jouvencel, 1:151–54. 218 Delbrück, cited in Ayton and Preston, The Battle of Crécy, p. 347. Michael Harbinson, “The Longbow as a Close Quarter Weapon in the Fifteenth Century,” Hobilar: The Journal of the Lance and Longbow Society 15 (1995), 2–9. 213

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obstructing their men-at-arms?219 Monstrelet indicates that at Verneuil both methods were used.220 Le Jouvencel thought that archers should be positioned on the wings so that they could fire into the sides of the enemy battle and that they should be supported on both flanks by “petis tropelets de gens d’armes,” small groups of men-at-arms with lances who may sometimes have been mounted.221 Charles the Bold recommended a similar arrangement in 1476.222 A key question was how far were the horses and baggage kept to the rear? Medieval sources are vague on this issue, often stating that the horses were “sent away,” or “directed towards the rear,” and there are other complicating factors.223 Normally the wagons and baggage carts were drawn up in a laager to protect the rear of the army, providing shelter for the horses, sick, and noncombatants, or hidden in nearby woods, as at Morlaix, probably 100 yards from the front line, and Buironfosse (1339).224 They were usually assigned a mounted guard; at St. Remy (1412) it was the varlets.225 The horses needed to be safe from both missile fire and capture, and at a distance that would inhibit flight but not so far away as to preclude a successful pursuit or an organized retreat. Soldiers became distracted if their womenfolk, boys, animals, and goods were placed too close to the fighting.226 At Poitiers (1356) the English kept their horses close by, “assez près d’eux,” hidden and protected by the hedges, and some of their men-at-arms may not have removed their spurs.227 Clearly, the discipline and cohesiveness 219 At

Crécy, Le Baker says the archers were not placed in front of the men-at-arms, but on the wings so that they would not obstruct them: Le Baker, Chronicon, pp. 83–84. Bennett, “Battle Tactics in the Hundred Years War,” pp. 1–20. Strickland and Hardy, The Great Warbow, pp. 287–371. Clifford J. Rogers, War Cruel and Sharp, English Strategy Under Edward III, 1327–1360 (Woodbridge, 2000), p. 266, n. 162. 220 Monstrelet, La chronique, 4:193. 221 Le Jouvencel, 1:152. Tropelet indicates a small force or group, sometimes suggesting horsemen, 1:213: “ung petit tropelet de lances,” 1:213, n. 4: “ung petit tropelet de gens d’armes lances,” 2:248: “ung petit tropelet de gens à cheval.” Frédéric Godefroy, ed., Dictionnaire de l’ancienne langue française, 10 vols. (Paris, 1880–1902), 8:89: “ung petit tropelet de gens à cheval.” (1428). However, Le Jouvencel, 2:36–38 also says that each flank of the archers should be protected by “une tourbe de gens d’armes,” which is more indicative of dismounted men-at-arms in close order. Whether the flank guard was mounted or dismounted would depend upon the circumstances, dismounted men-at-arms with lances being better able to resist cavalry. When Edward III formed his army into battle array on the Weardale campaign (1327), the small wings of men-at-arms remained mounted. Rogers, War Cruel and Sharp, p. 17, cf. p. 170, n. 81. 222 Charles the Bold’s ordinance of 1476 has archers on the wings flanked by cavalry: J. R. Hale, War and Society in Renaissance Europe 1450–1620 (Leicester, 1985), p. 59. Rogers, War Cruel and Sharp, p. 267, n. 162. 223 For example: “dimissis retro equis,” Galbraith, “Historia Aurea,” p. 213 on Restellou: “equos omnes et cavectos a tergo statuerunt,” “dimissis equis.” 224 Burne, Crécy War, p. 77. 225 Monstrelet, La chronique, 2:251–52. 226 Maurice, Strategikon, p. 58. 227 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:345: “leurs chevaux assez près d’eux par tantôt monter si il était besoin.”



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of the English force enabled the Black Prince to plan for an immediate counterattack when the opportunity presented itself. In contrast, the French, who were advised to dismount on the advice of William Douglas, sent most of their war horses back to Poitiers, four miles away, to prevent “the opportunity of a swift flight.” The distrust in the men-at-arms, who might otherwise remount if their horses were kept nearer to hand, suggests a tactic that was new to the French. However, the French had experimented with dismounting their men-at-arms against the English at Restellou (9 June 1346), two months before Crécy, while sending a small, mounted force to attack the enemy rear. At Taillebourg (1351) and Mauron (1352), they dismounted again, but on all three occasions were unsuccessful.228 It may have been the failure of these ventures that caused Le Baker to consider the decision to dismount at Poitiers “shocking madness.”229 As a result, the French were forced to make a tiring advance in armor over uneven terrain, greatly increasing “the amount of time they would be under arrow-fire” before they closed with the English.230 At Cravant (1423), signifying disquiet as to how well the Burgundians, in their first combined operation with the English, would comply with the order to dismount, it was proclaimed that those who refused would be put to death. In addition, the horses were to be placed in excess of a mile, “l’espace de demilieue,” from the main force, while those found nearer would be forfeited.231 On the opposing side, the Lombards, brigaded in an uneasy partnership with the Scots guarding the bridge, kept their horses close at hand.232 They were in full armor and anxious not to be isolated. However, when the Scots were forced back, exposing the Lombards’ flank to archery, the latter hastily remounted and rode off. Those unable to reach the horse line discarded their leg protection and ran for the woods. The Italians were unaccustomed to dismounting, and according to Le Jouvencel, always fought on horseback, being victorious at La Buissière the following year when they were “bien montez et armez.”233

228 Strickland

and Hardy, The Great Warbow, p. 222. T. F. Tout, “Some Neglected Fights between Crécy and Poitiers,” English Historical Review 20 (1905), 726–30. 229 Le Baker Chronicle, tr. Preest, p. 123. 230 Rogers, “Poitiers,” p. 30. 231 A French league was approximately two and a half miles, which would place the horses in excess of a mile from the main force. As it was a hot day, the Anglo-Burgundians dismounted a quarter league from their enemies, but the horses were to be led back half a league, not half a mile as Burne has incorrectly stated. Monstrelet, la chronique, 5:40: “l’espace de demi-lieue.” Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 3:65. Richard Ager Newhall, The English Conquest of Normandy 1416–1424 (Oxford, 1924), pp. 228–230. Alfred H. Burne, Agincourt War (1956; reprint, Westport, 1976), p. 185, considers the Burgundians were of poor quality. 232 Le Livre des trahisons, p. 170: “il faisoit tenir les chevaux au plus près d’eux.” 233 Cousinot, Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 221. Le Jouvencel, 2:36: “Les Ytaliens… combattent toujours à cheval.” Michael Mallett, Mercenaries and Their Masters: Warfare in Renaissance Italy (London, 1974), p. 148, in the fifteenth century, the Italian cavalry was unused to dismounting and saw no reason to change their methods.

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At Crécy, unless we accept the premise that the wagon laager was in the front-line, the horses and baggage were probably held back about 0.6 miles, partly in woodland behind the windmill.234 At Verneuil, the wagon laager was approximately 0.75 miles to the rear.235 Here the horses, instead of being placed inside the laager, were collected in an unusual way. Due to the open terrain, they were tethered in groups, halter to tail, and placed around the carts as an additional defense against mounted attack with a guard of 2,000 archers.236 The chroniclers regarded this equine protection as equivalent to that of a hedge: “en manière de haye,” or “la haye des chevaux, qui par derrière estoil.”237 The earl of Salisbury used a similar arrangement at Blore Heath (1459) where many of the Yorkist horses were killed by arrow fire, either because they were kept too close to the fighting or were deliberately used as a protective screen.238 The uncommon manner of tethering the horses at Verneuil did not, however, stop a significant part of the English army from fleeing the field when the Lombard cavalry charged. The fugitives were all mounted and included many pages and men-at-arms “de nostre pais d’Angleterre.”239 They traveled considerable distances to Conches and Bernay, causing turmoil and confusion, leading to a series of uprisings against English rule. So where did the fugitives come from? Waurin and the Bourgeois de Paris state that the pages and varlets were already mounted when the Lombards attacked.240 Some archers and men-at-arms may have managed to reach the horses, but the majority of fugitives must have come from the 200 mounted English lances, which, as Cousinot suggests, were placed towards the rear.241 Surprisingly, the open terrain worked in favor of the English, for those on foot quickly realized that, with nowhere to go, salvation rested entirely in their own hands. Caught between the Lombards and the Scots, they “had either to defend themselves or die in battle.”242 In contrast, when the French finally broke and fled for the sanctuary of the town, many failed to make it. Assuming favorable terrain, trying to reach a horse line approximately 1 mile away would take around fifteen minutes at a jog and eight minutes running. However, those wounded or exhausted by battle and in armor would take 234 Kelly

DeVries, “The Tactics of Crécy,” in DeVries and Livingston, The Battle of Crécy, 447–67. 235 Burne, Agincourt War, p. 201. 236 Journal d’un bourgeois, p. 197. Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 3:110. 237 Le Fèvre, Chronique 2:85, Journal d’un bourgeois, p. 197. Strickland suggests that this may also have happened at Restellou: Strickland and Hardy, The Great Warbow, p. 223. 238 Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 5:320. 239 Le Cacheux, Actes, 1:125. 240 It was not uncommon for those with the baggage to remain mounted, including the author of the Gesta at Agincourt: Gesta Henrici Quinti, The Deeds of Henry the Fifth, ed. and trans. Frank Taylor and John S. Roskell (Oxford, 1975), pp. 84–85. This gave a better view of the battle, as well as providing a ready means of escape. 241 Journal d’un bourgeois, p. 197. Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 3:110. Cousinot, Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 225. 242 Liber Pluscardensis, 2:272.



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considerably longer. The count of Nantes, who always donned his hauberk while mounted, remarked that an armored knight who was any distance from his horse was in much greater danger of being killed or captured.243 Grooms and varlets literally held the power of life and death in these scenarios, Christine de Pizan acknowledging the importance of their role.244 Many, as at Vernueil (1424), would remain mounted to better watch the course of the battle and anticipate the need for pursuit or flight, so that they could bring up the horses and reduce the distance travelled by their masters.245 It would take around 4.4 minutes to cover a mile at a canter and two minutes at a gallop. At Auray (1364), the servants who were supposed to be looking after the horses became involved in the fighting, stranding their men-at-arms whose mounts were scattered all over the field.246 In Froissart’s account of Lussac Bridge (1370), the French grooms, having sighted Sir John Chandos, fled with the horses, so that although the French were victorious, they were unable to locate their mounts. Several discarded their armor and ran over the fields in a vain search for their varlets, nor could the English horses be appropriated, as their pages had also fled.247 Consequently, encumbered with wounded, upon the approach of Louis de Harcourt, they surrendered to their prisoners. At Trancoso (1384), both the Portuguese and Castilians dismounted, but when the Spaniards began to give ground, their grooms and varlets fled with the horses. Consequently, of the seven captains who led the expedition, only one escaped, when a loyal page brought up a horse to rescue him from the fighting.248 It was also widely acknowledged that bringing the horses up to the battleline could be chaotic: “There was so much tension, disorder, and confusion that in such a mob nobody could recognize his reserve horse and hope to mount it.”249 The situation was no different at Montlhéry (1465) when, after contradictory orders to dismount and remount, the Burgundian varlets, who had taken the horses to the rear, were unable to locate their masters and many men-atarms mounted the horses of others. The tumult attracted the attention of the French artillery, causing considerable loss.250 According to Commynes, Richard Neville, the earl of Warwick (1428–71), hoped to avoid this situation by always remaining mounted, leading his men into battle and charging the enemy if things

243 Strickland,

War and Chivalry, p. 168, citing William Marshal. Fatal Colours, p. 173. Christine de Pizan, The Book of Deeds of Arms and Chivalry, trans. Summer Willard (Philadelphia, PA, 1999), p. 66: the good men holding the horses of their masters who can intervene if needed. 245 Journal d’un bourgeois, p. 198. Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 3:110. 246 Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, p. 147. 247 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:601–02. 248 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:477. 249 Maurice, Strategikon, p. 59. 250 Jean, Seigneur de Haynin et de Louvegnies, Mémoires, ed. R. Chalons, 2 vols. (Mons, 1842), 1:35. The Memoirs of Philip De Commines, trans. Andrew R. Scobie, 2 vols. (London, 1879–80), 1:22. Philip de Lalaing was among those killed. 244 Goodwin,

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went well, while retaining the option of a speedy retreat.251 Unfortunately for him, at Barnet (1471) he was persuaded by his brother, the earl of Montagu to dismount and fight on foot to animate the troops. Following the Lancastrian collapse, Warwick seems to have reached his horse but became trapped in a wood, and was killed before he could ride off.252 When the opposition dismounted, a tactic much favored by the French was to use the superior mobility of their cavalry to surprise, drive off, and capture the enemy horses, stranding their owners and preventing a mounted counterattack. The loss of valuable horses demoralized the enemy, effectively preventing escape or pursuit. This happened at Lunalonge (1349), where the English, although finally victorious, were forced to retreat on foot at night. A further problem of being dismounted was that captured horses might be immediately used against their former owners. This also occurred at Lunalonge and to the bascot de Mauléon near Sancerre.253 At Pontvallain (1370), Bertrand du Guesclin, having determined to capture the English horses, used them to pursue their previous owners to Vaas, as his own mounts were exhausted.254 Indecision whether to remain mounted and seize the enemy’s horses or to dismount and take on their men-at-arms cost the Castilians the battle at Valverde (1385).255 The English tactic of dismounting to fight made them far more vulnerable than their opponents to losing their horses. This occurred in defeat, as at Valmont (1416), Montargis (1427), Conty (1430) and numerous other engagements, but also in victory, as at Restellou (1346), and Lunalonge (1349).256 At Restellou, having lost all his horses to the French attack upon his rear, Sir Thomas Dagworth was obliged to appropriate any he could find on his journey back to Quimperlé to transport the wounded.257 Again, despite having dismounting to defeat the Commynes, tr. Scobie, 1:201. Three Chronicles of the Reign of Edward IV; Warkworth’s Chronicle, p. 16: “And whenne the Erle of Warwyke sawe his brother dede, and the Erle of Oxenforde fledde, he lepte on horse-backe, and fled to a wode by the feld of Barnett, where ther was no waye forthe.” It was sometimes better to dismount and remain on foot in thick woods: Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, p. 290. 253 Scalacronica, pp. 159–61. Froissart, Chroniques, 2:409. 254 Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, pp. 353–54: the French lost 200 horses in a long and stormy night ride to the battlefield, while those that survived were completely spent, “foulez et lasses grandement”: Chronique de Bertrand du Guesclin par Cuvelier, ed. E. Charrière, 2 vols. (Paris, 1839), 2:174. 255 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:484. 256 Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, gives numerous examples of the English losing their horses following defeat: 1:56; 1:161; 2:20; 3:76: “plusieurs chevaulx et harnoiz gaignez sur iceulx Anglois,” “fut prins ung cappitaine Angloiz et y ot gaigné de cent à six vingtz chevaulx,” “et perdirent iceulx Angloiz la plus grant partie de leurs chevaulx.” Scalacronica, p. 161: at Lunalonge, the French men-at-arms whose horses had been killed, mounted those of the English, which they had captured. 257 Galbraith, “Historia aurea,” p. 214. Rogers, “Sir Thomas Dagworth in Brittany,” pp. 136–37. Strickland and Hardy, The Great Warbow, p. 223, at Restellou, which they refer to as St. Pol de Léon, Thomas Dagworth lost sixty horses belonging to the men-at-arms and 251

252 Dockray,



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French attack at Chaumes-en-Brie (1419), the earl of Warwick lost most of his horses. At Agincourt, many horses were captured in the mounted attack upon the baggage, something which greatly upset the king, resulting in most of the victorious army walking to Calais, a journey that took three days.258 Horses were vulnerable to attack whether at pasture or being watered and required a considerable mounted guard, men who might have been more usefully deployed elsewhere. At Vausselle, the 2,000 horses of the men-at-arms required a guard of 500, while at Sancerre the bascot de Mauléon left 100 men to look after the horses.259 Thus, even when the fighting was on foot, horses were an important factor in shaping the course of events. Dismounting to fight was largely a defensive posture and relied upon the opposition to initiate an attack. Moving about in armor for any length of time led to breathlessness and exhaustion, especially when negotiating difficult terrain, attacking uphill, as at Restellou (1346), or up a slope with long grass, as at Mauron (1352).260 Often it was considered prudent just to let the attacking side wear itself out, following which a counterattack could be made, as at Valeverde (1385).261 Furthermore, dismounted men-at-arms were easily fatigued on the line of march, their weapons often carried in carts, making them vulnerable to a surprise attack. Hot and dusty weather exacerbated the situation, resulting in men-at-arms becoming so covered with dust that they could neither breathe nor tell each other apart.262 At Mons-en-Pévèle (1304), the French suffocated in their armor due to the summer heat, which also caused problems for the English men-at-arms at Cravant (1423) and at Langny (1432) where many died from sunstroke.263 At Cocherel (1364), the French realized that attacking uphill in the oppressive heat would be disastrous.264 At Verneuil, another hot day, the French and Scots advanced “trop hastivement,” eager to capitalize on the success of 120 hackneys belonging to the archers, suggesting that the animals had been deliberately targeted. Maurice, Strategikon, p. 30, shows how the wounded were helped to mount. 258 Le Fèvre, Chronique, 1:257; it was not just the pack horses. 259 Le Jouvencel, 1:150; Froissart, Chroniques, 2:409. 260 Sumption, Trial by Fire, p. 94: “grandes herbes.” 261 Froissart, Chroniques, 2:484: At Valverde, both sides dismounted, but the Portuguese allowed their Castilian opponents to attack until they had exhausted themselves. Consequently, they became so disordered and fatigued by the weight of their armor that they could neither help one another nor resist a counterattack. Verbruggen, The Art of War in Western Europe, pp. 185–86, considered this type of situation as one of the few occasions when it was safe for dismounted troops to advance, which might, as at Coutrai (1302), bring success even against cavalry. 262 Chartier Chronique de Charles VII, 1:180, describing the retaking of St. Denys (1435). 263 Kelly Devries, Infantry Warfare in the Early Fourteenth Century (Woodbridge, 1996), p. 40. Waurin, Recueil des croniques, 3:64: at Cravant, the Burgundians threw themselves on the ground to try and get moisture onto their faces. Chartier, Chronique de Charles VII, 1:144–45. Chastellain, Oeuvres, 2:312: The Burgundian enterprise on Morbeck had to be abandoned due to the heat when several nobles were “en danger de mort.” 264 Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, p. 107. Froissart, Chroniques, 1:478: “car il faisoit malement chaud.”

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the Lombard cavalry, only to become breathless by the time they reached the English line, leaving large gaps in their ranks, which their opponents exploited. The English, having reformed, advanced “slowly and wisely,” without getting overheated, while the Scots and French were “out of breath.”265 Consequently, it was well-known that when both armies were on foot those who attacked first tended to lose the battle as the exertion of advancing in armor caused breathlessness, fatigue and loss of formation, by which many battles were lost.266 Le Jouvencel considered this a common scenario in the Anglo-French wars, where even a bush could cause disorder.267 Armor did not particularly restrict movement but increased oxygen consumption by an average of 66 percent for any given speed.268 Thus, unlike the cavalry, which should always be the first to charge furiously as long as they could passer oultre, those on foot should never charge the enemy but do the very opposite and stand fast to conserve their energy, while using whatever guile necessary to get the enemy to advance first.269 Sir John Chandos had expressed similar sentiments at Auray (1364): I implore you, sir, forget about attacking! Let the French make the first move. Let’s hold our position and keep tight order. It’s often the case, I’m convinced of it, that the first side to attack comes unstuck!270

Hence, in many engagements, as at Agincourt and Cravant, both sides faced each other for long periods before any action began; at Verneuil the battle did not start until around 3.00 p.m.271 The situation posed a perennial problem for the English, causing them to advance slowly into longbow range hoping, as at Agin265 Cousinot, Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 225: “pesamment et sagement.” Liber Pluscardensis,

p. 272, despite having been disorganized by Lombard cavalry, the English managed to form a compact body and charged their opponents who “had allowed gaps to appear in their line.” 266 Le Jouvencel, 2:37: “car moult batailles s’en sont perdues.” 2:63–65, gives several examples, including Agincourt, Verneuil and Castillon. Clifford Rogers, “The Offensive/ Defensive in Medieval Strategy,” in From Crecy to Mohacs: Warfare in the Late Middle Ages (1346–1526). Acta of the XXIInd Colloquium of the International Commission of Military History (Vienna, 1996), 158–71: emphasizes and develops this point with further illustrations. 267 Le Jouvencel, 2:65: “et plusieurs foys est-il ainsi advenu entre les Françoys et les Angloys.” 268 Daniel Jaquet, Alice B. Mazure, Stéphane Armand, et al., “Range of Motion and Energy Cost of Locomotion of the Late Medieval Armoured Fighter: A Proof of Concept of Confronting the Medieval Technical Literature with Modern Movement Analysis,” Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History (2016), 169–86, DOI: 10.1080/01615440.2015.1112753. 269 Le Jouvencel, 2:36–37; Le Jouvencel, tr. Taylor and Taylor, pp. 132–33. 270 Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, p. 140. 271 Waurin, Recueil de chroniques, 3:67, at Cravant both sides faced each other for a full three hours. Chroniques de Perceval de Cagny, ed. H. Moranvillé (Paris, 1892), p. 134: at Verneuil “la bataille des Englois ne se bougoit,” and it was not until 3 pm before the English were compelled to advance.



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court and Verneuil, to use arrow fire to provoke their opponents into attacking. The disadvantage of this maneuver was that it removed the archers from their protective stakes. In the later Hundred Years’ War, the French “would not fight the English in the manner in which they were accustomed,” refusing to attack positions that appeared too strong, as at Pontoise (1441). Instead, after a stand-off and some skirmishing both sides would go their separate ways.272 Having once dismounted, it was important to keep a tight formation. Christine de Pizan advised that a battle should be drawn up as compact as a wall, for not only does disorder enable the enemy to penetrate the ranks, but it can also crowd the men so close together that they cannot fight, as often happened in attacks on flank or rear.273 Disorganization resulting in an enemy penetration was, therefore, usually fatal.274 At Cocherel (1364), the women brought water to the French standing in the battleline so that they did not have to break ranks.275 At Cravant, each soldier had to remain within his station, it being a capital offense to take prisoners before victory was certain, a proclamation that underlined the dangers of dispersal to a dismounted force.276 Accordingly, when fighting on foot it was essential to have an experienced rearguard that could intervene to steady and redress the ranks, reinforce the main battle, and prevent retreat.277 At Auray (1364), the rearguard, commanded by Hugh de Calveley, was kept separate from the fighting and stepped in only to address those issues.278 More often the rearguard was mounted and remained near the baggage, ready to intervene if the ranks became disordered or an opportunity arose to attack the enemy in the flank or rear. The tactic, common to both the English and French, was deployed by Edward III at Buironfosse (1339), the Black Prince at Nájera (1367), Boucicault at Milan, and the Burgundians at Othée (1408).279 At Cocherel (1364), where both sides dismounted, the French kept 200 mounted men-at-arms with the baggage under Eustache de la Hous272 Chartier,

Chronique de Charles VII, 2.23: “la manière que iceulx Angloiz avoint acoustumé d’estre en tel cas, c’est assavoir d’eux fortifier de boys, de paulx sur bout et charroy, de canons et autre artillerie. Car par plussieurs foiz on a veu que les François et les Angloiz s’en allez les ungs de devant les autres sans combattre.” 273 Christine de Pizan, Le livre des faits et bonnes moeurs du sage roi Charles V (Paris, 1892), p. 174. Verbruggen, The Art of Warfare, p. 189: flank attacks on foot-soldiers pressed them up against the center so that, unable to use their weapons, they perished in the crush, as at Dupplin Moor (1332). 274 Le Jouvencel 2:36–38: “si une foys une bataille est percée, elle est perdue.” Le Jouvencel, tr. Taylor and Taylor, p. 133. Rogers, “Offensive/Defensive,” p. 162, quotes Christine de Pizan: “Two great evils can follow from a disordered formation: one is that the enemies can more easily break into it; the other is that the formations may be so compressed that they cannot fight.” 275 Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, p. 115. 276 Newhall, English Conquest of Normandy, p. 228. 277 Le Jouvencel 2:36–38. 278 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:495: “de radrecier et de mettre en arroy les leurs qui branloient, ou qui se déconfisoient.” 279 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:82, at Buironfosse, Warwick’s unit was mounted and set back as a rear-guard “pour reconforter les batailles qui brandeleroient.” Cabaret, La chronique du

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saye, who acted decisively against the English rear in the latter stages of the battle. At Castagnaro (1387), the victory was won by a cavalry reserve that included mounted archers. Numbers of the mounted reserve were not always large: at Dupplin Moor (1332), there were fifty German mounted men-at-arms, with sixty under the captal de Buch at Poitiers.280 The exertions of fighting on foot with smaller numbers of men-at-arms made pursuit both difficult and dangerous for the English. Thus, there was no pursuit at Agincourt or Rouvray and at Crécy it was left until the following day. The sophistication of late medieval battle plans is demonstrated by that of John the Fearless (1417). A rearguard of 400 mounted men-at-arms with their varlets, together with 100 archers was to be placed a bowshot behind the main body. A separate force of 1,000 mounted men-at-arms was to be drawn from the main body and kept to one side either to charge the enemy’s horse or act as expedient. If attacked, the whole van was to dismount and could either, as the occasion demanded, supplement the mounted force or be reinforced by men-atarms drawn from it. This shows a high degree of flexibility with men-at-arms being able either to fight dismounted or act as cavalry within the same battle. Furthermore, twenty valiant mounted gentlemen were to be placed behind the van to rally and encourage those who fell back and to fill any gaps within the line, a role that was probably both exhortatory and coercive.281 Le Jouvencel’s advice was similar: a force of mounted men, separated from the main battle and preferably concealed in a valley or wood, was to be ready to act as necessary. In addition, a disciplined mounted rearguard, “one of the principal subtleties of war,” was to ensure that not everyone got involved in the pursuit.282 Finally, a small, mounted troop was designated to protect the rear from falling into confusion, and to assist the return of the coureurs.283 Christine de Pizan likewise stressed the importance of a rearguard “to support those in front,” and behind them “yeomen on horseback,” tasked with aiding others if necessary and protecting the rear.284 Le Jouvencel, a semi-fictional “roman à clef,” brings together many of the elements discussed above based upon the author’s extensive military experience, especially in dealing with the English. This is demonstrated in an example which illustrates how to respond to a surprise encounter by a larger enemy force. The first instruction was to dismount, knowing that being charged while retreating would result in defeat. The battle is then set up in front of a hedge bon duc Loys, p. 306: at Milan, the men-at-arms dismounted, apart from a rearguard of 200 horsemen. Vaughan, John the Fearless, pp. 60–61, for the Burgundians at Othée. 280 Rogers, War Cruel and Sharp, p. 42, for Dupplin Moor. De Haynin, Mémoires, 1:41: a reserve of forty or fifty lances on either side could have proved decisive at Montlhéry (1465). 281 Vaughan, John the Fearless, pp. 148–50. Vale, War and Chivalry, p. 103. 282 Le Jouvencel, 2:62. William Marshal, tr. Bryant, pp. 138–39, where the rearguard kept discipline and remained in place until everyone had returned from the pursuit. 283 Le Jouvencel, 1:73, 2:62. 284 Christien de Pizan, Deeds of Arms and Chivalry, p. 66.



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with the standard raised in the middle, surrounded by most of the men-at-arms. Smaller detachments of men-at-arms are placed at both ends of the hedge and the archers stationed all along it. The horses are taken to the safety of a marsh in the rear. The enemy dismount also and, feeling secure in their larger numbers, hasten to the attack but become breathless and dispersed while Le Jouvencel’s force remains motionless. When the first to reach Le Jouvencel’s ranks are struck down and killed, those behind flee for their horses. The enemy are defeated because they lacked a plan and made a disorderly attack, reinforcing Le Jouvencel’s conviction that when fighting on foot those who advance first will lose, while those who remain in place will win and that a hedge or ditch, however small, is invaluable.285 One further ancient tactic available to dismounted footmen in large or small groups when charged by cavalry was to open ranks and let the horsemen pass. This was demonstrated near Ghent in 1452 by several Picard archers, who were surprised by enemy troops including English men-at-arms. Realizing that flight would be disastrous, the Picards dismounted, tied their horses together, and formed up to use their bows. When an English man-at-arms charged with couched lance, the Picards immediately opened ranks to let him through, showering him with arrows as he passed, and wounding his horse in the process. Thoroughly shaken, the Englishman declined to make another pass, and when no one else dared to approach, the Picards remounted and rode to safety.286 Something similar happened at Verneuil (1424), when the English, in an involuntary reaction, opened ranks to let the Lombard cavalry through, limiting the potential damage.287 Cavalry could use the same ploy, but when one side had passed through, the other could turn to attack them in the rear, or as at Bergerac, feign flight and lure their pursuers onto the archers.288 The low mobility of infantry made it the natural arm of defense but attacks by men-at-arms on foot could succeed if they harnessed the element of surprise, as at Pontvallain (1370). In such circumstances the men-at-arms often rode to a favorable position before dismounting, fresh and ready for action, usually at a distance where the neighing of steeds and the rattling of weapons could not be heard. Then, they advanced in good order, “rengié et ordené,” with cloth tied around their helmets and standards lowered so that they would not Jouvencel, ed. Lecestre, 1:151–54; Le Jouvencel, tr. Taylor and Taylor, pp. 87–88. Chronicles, tr. Johnes, 2:212. The tactic was used by Greek peltasts at Cunaxa, who showered the Persian horsemen with missiles as they passed. 287 Basin, Histoire de Charles VII, 1:94–96. Walter Bower, Scotichronicon, ed. D. E. R. Watt (Aberdeen, 1999), 15:127: a vast cloud of missiles and arrows was sent against the enemy. 288 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:497: At Ribemont (1356), the English couched their lances and charged the French horse, who opened ranks to let them through. The French then reformed and fell upon the English rear. 1:335: the English used a similar maneuver at Romorantin, where only five or six men were unhorsed during the initial charge. When the French had passed through their formation, the English closed ranks and attack their rear, holding their own until reinforcements arrived. Rogers, “Frontier Warfare,” p. 235: The same ploy was used by the earl of Derby’s horsemen to lure French cavalry onto their archers at Bergerac. 285 Le

286 Monstrelet’s

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be recognized.289 Again, outside Bressuire, the English were taken by surprise when the French suddenly approached on horseback and then dismounted to attack.290 Nájera (1367) provides a classic example of this tactic when the Black Prince moved his whole army on horseback onto his opponent’s flank before dismounting 400 yards. from their position.291 Horsemen often made long nocturnal journeys to avoid detection, before dismounting to take an unsuspecting town by escalade, or to attack when the gates opened at dawn.292 When fighting dismounted it was customary to remove spurs, while leg armor might also be detached to improve mobility. Bertrand du Guesclin removed his poleyns when they prevented him from running, and Hugh de Calveley’s rearguard discarded their leg armor to expedite their progress.293 At Poitiers, the dismounted French men-at-arms removed their spurs and “cut off the long toes of their riding boots,” while, at Agincourt, Henry V marshalled his troops riding a gray hackney without spurs, indicating his intention to fight on foot.294 The English took off their spurs at La Gravelle and Talbot was captured at Patay because, although he had managed to remount, he had previously removed his spurs.295 Good armor was essential for a man-at-arms on foot, for as Wace pointed out; “it is not possible for a man to strike good blows with a two-handed axe and defend himself at the same time.”296 However, by the fifteenth century full plate armor not only gave a footman significant defensive protection, making the shield unnecessary, but also considerable forward momentum, transforming him into a very formidable opponent, especially when armed with a poleaxe, “that most knightly of weapons.”297 The poleaxe appeared around 1400 and was du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, pp. 346–49. p. 356. 291 Life of the Black Prince by the Herald of Sir John Chandos, ed. and trans. Mildred K. Pope and Eleanor C. Lodge (Oxford, 1910), p. 94: “tout à cheval.” Michael Jones, The Black Prince (London, 2017), pp. 310–12. 292 Le Jouvencel, 2:14–18, 2:130, for Marchenoir (Escallon 1427). Monstrelet, La Chronique, 5:117: for the escalade at Rue (1435). 293 Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, pp, 75, 142. Oman, History of the Art of War, 2:178: “without this expedient the English reserve would not have been sufficiently mobile.” Large pauldrons might also be taken off when fighting on foot or in hot weather, leaving protection to the underlying areas of the arming doublet and mail: Tobias Capwell, “A Depiction of an Italian Arming Doublet, c. 1435–1445,” Waffen und Kostümkunde 44 (2002), p. 14. 294 Burne, Crécy War, p. 298. Waurin, Recueil de chroniques, 2:202: “de tous poins arme… sans esporons.” Le Fèvre, Chronique, 1:244. 295 Paul Charpentier and Charles Cuissard, ed., Journal du siège d’Orléans 1428–1420 (Orléans, 1896), p. 140. Removing spurs could be difficult if they were worn beneath mail. 296 Bennett, “Wace and Warfare,” p. 244. 297 Goodwin, Fatal Colours, pp. 153–54. Ewart Oakeshott, European Weapons and Armour, (London, 1980), p. 49: The poleaxe was several weapons in one. The wooden shaft, roughly 5 feet long, was protected by iron langets. The head had an axe-blade on one side and a hammer head on the other, often with a recurved beak. Both ends of the shaft were furnished with sharp iron spikes. 289 Bertrand 290 Ibid.,



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superior to the sword in dealing with plate armor; it largely replaced the combination of cut-down lances and battle axes used by dismounted men-at-arms. The English preference for fighting on foot was reflected in their armor. By 1400, plate sabatons, low cut around the ankles with downward overlapping lames, were almost universal in England, giving significant protection to the foot and facilitating movement. In contrast, continental warriors, used to fighting mounted, tended to leave their feet unguarded or covered them with mail.298 In addition, fifteenth-century English armor had fully enclosed cuisses with winged medial poleyns to protect the inner thighs, backs of the legs and knees, areas exposed in foot combat where injuries were instantly disabling. Such armor made riding difficult and was, therefore, rarer on the continent, where fighting on horseback was common and vulnerable areas were protected by the saddle and cantle.299 At Cravant (1423), the Lombards were struck in the legs by English arrows possibly because, accustomed to being mounted, they were not wearing fully enclosed cuisses.300 Indeed, as at Agincourt, the English seem to have capitalized on attacking the groin, backs of the legs and thighs, areas of their opponents’ bodies protected when on horseback, but exposed when fighting on foot.301 From around 1465, however, open-backed cuisses with enhanced articulation became more popular in England as they aided riding, mounting and dismounting, indicating a potential change in tactics. Accordingly, Capwell concludes that “the English deployed armoured cavalry against each other more frequently during the Wars of the Roses than they had against the French during the Hundred Years’ War,” a contention, perhaps, more relevant to the later stages of the conflict.302 Goodman, however, agrees that the Wars of the Roses “produced a revival of English cavalry fighting.”303 Conclusion The dismounting of men-at-arms was a longstanding expedient, originating among the Franks with some influence from Anglo-Saxon military tradition, dating back to the eleventh and early twelfth centuries. The tactic was not just 298 Capwell,

Armour of the English Knight 1400–1450, pp. 182–83, the foot needed to be fully protected but remain flexible, as an ill-fitting sabaton could reduce combat effectiveness. The Italians preferred mail armor for the foot, while the Germans often dispensed with it altogether. Dürer’s knight (1512) has open cuisses and lacks armor on the lower leg and foot. 299 Capwell, Armour of the English Knight 1400–1450, pp. 174–75: “fully enclosed cuisses seem to have been worn by English men-at-arms throughout the fifteenth century.” 300 Livre des trahisons, p. 170. 301 Curry, Agincourt, p. 211. Capwell, Armour of the English Knight 1400–1450, p. 129. 302 Tobias Capwell, Armour of the English Knight 1450–1500 (London, 2021), pp. 187–88. 303 Goodman, The Wars of the Roses, pp. 178–79. For example: the cavalry engagement at Worksop (1460), Blore Heath (1469), and the “plump of speres” at Tewksbury (1471). Warwick’s horsemen also took pressure off his frontline at Barnet (1471), and the cavalry charge at Bosworth (1485).

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an English phenomenon, but common throughout Western Europe and Castilian Spain, although less so in Italy.304 Other than difficult terrain, the principal reasons for dismounting were to counter a cavalry charge, support the infantry, particularly the archers, protect the horses, and force the enemy to dismount, thus preventing their further advance and permitting fighting on more equal terms. Often it was part of a continuum, where men-at-arms might charge as cavalry in one stage of the battle and then dismount in another, as did the earl of Oxford at Poitiers and the Lancastrians less successfully at Blore Heath. Fighting dismounted then was not solely determined through national traditions or chivalric practice, but more often a choice carefully weighed by men-at-arms considering the topography and tactical situation. The French first dismounted their men-at-arms to counter the impact of longbow fire upon their horses at Restellou in June 1346. Throughout the Hundred Years’ War they continued to dismount large parts of their army, as at Poitiers (1356), Cocherel (1364), Auray (1364), Nájera (1367), Agincourt (1415) and Verneuil (1424). At Fresnay-le-Vicomte (1432), they dismounted before the English, whom they completely defeated.305 Despite early mounted setbacks in the second phase of the Hundred Years’ War, caused by inexperience and chivalric recklessness, the French relearned the “wise valour” of either ignoring the traditional English defense, or, as at Formigny (1450), using a combination of horse, foot and missile troops to overcome it.306 Even in dismounted engagements it was rare for horsemen to be completely absent. Some invariably remained mounted, either as a rearguard, or to target individuals, such as Godefroy de Harcourt at Coutances (1356) or the captal de Buch at Cocherel.307 Indeed, as Clifford Rogers has pointed out, in many battles where infantry predominated, the victory was often obtained by the cavalry.308 Moreover, in the vast majority of dismounted encounters the horses required consideration, either in relation to their distance from the fighting line, their targeting by the enemy and potential capture, their role as a mounted reserve, or in bringing men-at-arms to a favorable attacking position. Many reasons for dismounting were linked to the desire to protect the horses and slay those of the enemy, making the opposition less mobile, more vulnerable to exhaustion, and more likely to divest themselves of weapons and equipment. These aims were not, however, confined to the battlefield, as horsemen were utilized to interdict an enemy’s supply lines and kill his foragers, actions that, by starving an opponent’s horses, would ultimately achieve the same result. Without horses it was difficult to transport the wounded, engage in a pursuit, and hold on to prisoners, who had a much greater chance of being slaughtered 304 Although

the Italians dismounted against the Swiss at Arbedo (1422). Chronique de Charles VII, 1:163–64. 306 Basin Histoire de Charles VII, 1:38; des Ursins, Histoire de Charles VI, pp. 453, 455, for French inexperience. Song of Roland, p. 118: “wise valour.” 307 Froissart, Chroniques, 1:481. 308 Rogers, “Cavalry in Medieval Warfare” (unpublished article), pp. 27–28. 305 Chartier,



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when taken by a side that had dismounted to fight and was inferior in numbers and cavalry. Furthermore, concern for the horses meant that one side could effectively force the other to dismount, a tactic frequently used to try to equal the odds, prevent the enemy from advancing, and buy time for succor.309 Thus, paradoxically in dismounted actions, the horses frequently dictated the course of the battle and its subsequent events. When a decision was made to fight on foot, the distance that the horses were placed in the rear involved a delicate balance between discouraging flight and intervening decisively. In disciplined and homogeneous armies, as with the English at Poitiers, the animals might be kept close at hand. However, among armies of mixed nationalities or different traditions, most of the horses might be sent away altogether or kept at a considerable distance. The average distance for horses to be kept from the battle line was probably between a half and three-quarters of a mile.310 Hence, success or failure in dismounted enterprises depended much upon the level-headedness and loyalty of the grooms, who had to decide when to intervene with the horses. Remounting for the pursuit required fine judgement, with experienced warriors like Edward IV being able to sense when victory was imminent.311 Mounting and dismounting took time and was often a recipe for chaos. The horses had either to be led away or made ready and brought up to their individual masters, some being accidentally struck by the spear points of other riders causing “the greatest confusion and delay.”312 Spurs and leg protection might need to be removed to improve mobility on foot. Furthermore, indecision as whether to dismount or remain on horseback, as at Valverde (1385), Patay (1429), Rouvray (1429), and Vivoin (1434) or being caught in the process of transition, usually proved fatal. A further complication was that the order to dismount was not always observed. At Lincoln (1141), Vottem (1346), Coutances (1356), and Blore Heath (1459) it produced dismay and men-at-arms either fled at the first onset, rode off the field if they didn’t like the odds, or refused to help their dismounted comrades. At Nájera (1367), although the Order of the Band had dismounted, much of the Castilian heavy cavalry declined “to demean themselves by fighting

309 Similar

tactics were used in cavalry actions during World War I: Allan Mallinson, 1914 Fight the Good Fight (London, 2013), pp. 286–87. 310 Rough calculations suggest that at Maldon the horses were 0.5–0.75 miles from the fighting, at Crécy and Agincourt c. 0.5 miles, at Verneuil c. 0.75 miles away, and more than a mile at Cravant. Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield Rediscovered, ed. Anne Curry and Glenn Foard (Oxford, 2013), p. 181, suggest that Richard’s camp was approximately 1.367 miles from the battle, which might help explain why the king was not supplied with another horse. 311 Commynes, tr. Scobie, 1:192. Goodwin, Fatal Colours, p. 174. 312 Lieut. Colonel Reymond Hervey de Montmorency, Proposed Rules and Regulations for the Exercise and Manoeuvres of the Lance Adapted for British Cavalry, Compiled from The Polish System Instituted by Marshal Prince Joseph Poniatowski and General Count Corvin Krasinski (London, 1820), p. 81.

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on foot” and their horses suffered accordingly.313 At Cravant (1423), the Scots begged the French to dismount or at least attack the enemy on horseback, but there is no evidence to suggest that they did either effectively.314 An experienced mounted reserve was essential in both mounted and dismounted actions, for “no one with a good rearguard need fear the foe.”315 This was particularly so when fighting on foot, when, as at Poitiers, most of the combatants were wounded or exhausted.316 As Alfred Burne remarked: It is, I think, likely that in all our battles we retained at least a small force of mounted men-at-arms. If cavalry could not be usefully employed at the beginning of the battle their opportunity might come later.317

The same expedient was commonly used by the French, with great success at Cocherel (1364), and expounded by Le Jouvencel and John the Fearless, who understood the fluidity of the transition between mounted and dismounted action.318 Dismounted men-at-arms did not, however, always play a static defensive role and could achieve surprise, especially against a dispersed or disordered enemy, although often this was achieved by arriving at their starting positions on horseback. While success in mounted combat remained the pinnacle of chivalric enterprise throughout the Middle Ages, the heroic status of dismounting, despite its roots in Anglo-Saxon steadfastness and loyalty, was not fully revived until the later fifteenth century. Commynes’ observations at Montlhéry (1465) suggest that it had now become prestigious for men-at-arms to dismount among the archers and many preferred to engage in this manner, like Philip de Lalaing or the seigneur de Roussy, “most valiantly,” at Picquigny (1471).319 While the dismounting of men-at-arms might provoke hesitancy and flight in the opposing cavalry, it seldom prevented those on their own side from seeking Gallastegi, “Battle Tactics in Fifteenth Century Castile,” p. 115. Sumption, Trial by Fire, p. 554. 314 Cousinot, Chronique de la Pucelle, p. 213. 315 William Marshal, tr. Bryant, p. 139. 316 Le Baker, Chronicon, p. 192. 317 Alfred H. Burne, The Battlefields of England, 2 vols. (London, 1996), 2:118. 318 Le Jouvencel, 1:73, 1:110–11, 1:159, 1:217, repeatedly stresses the need for a strong mounted rearguard, which should only intervene when necessary. 319 Commynes, tr. Scobie, 1:21: “several good knights and squires were ordered to remain on foot… for at that time, among the Burgundians, it was most honourable to fight in that manner among the archers… they always put many men of substance there, so that the common soldiers should be encouraged and fight better. They had learnt this from the English.” De Haynin, Mémoires, 2:170–71. Despite disdaining to fight with gens mécaniques at Padua (1509), the chevalier Bayard proposed and led the assault by elite dismounted men-at-arms to support the foot at Brescia (1512): Cl. Gaier, “L’opinion des chefs de guerre français du XVI siècle sur les progrès de l’art militaire opinion,” Revue internationale d’histoire militaire 29 (1970), p. 726. Loredan Larchey, History of Bayard (London, 1883), pp. 287–89. Vale, War and Chivalry, p. 101. 313



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mounted escape, despite the severest of penalties. Some managed to reach their horses in the most unlikely situations or had remained mounted throughout the battle. Mounted flight was disastrous because the fugitives invariably drew others along with them, as well as unsettling those who remained. Oman noted the cost to a defeated army, “when its men-at-arms had dismounted, and were unable to recover their horses.”320 Indeed, there was tremendous loss of life in medieval battles when those on foot were vanquished, as with the Franco-Scottish army at Verneuil (1424) and the Lancastrians at Towton (1461), where, following a relentless mounted pursuit, more than 20,000 men were thought to have been killed.321 Thus, the opprobrium that surrounded those who left the field on horseback continued long after the medieval period. In Ancient Greece, although glory in battle went to the hoplites, the value of cavalry was clearly understood. As Clearchus explained: without cavalry, even in victory, the Greeks could neither kill nor capture anyone, but in defeat no one could be saved.322 Cavalry was feared because it was effective, and effective because it was feared, hence the variety of anti-equestrian devices designed to reduce its potency, including the utilization of horses, both living and dead.323 Terrain, however, particularly hedges and vineyards, frequently offered the best defense, with the English recognized as past masters at turning them into impregnable positions. Hedges obviated the need for infantry to defend in depth, enabling a position to be held with fewer men, which was why, especially when part of an enclosure, they became places of last resort. The prospect of fighting on foot, particularly against a hedge defense, almost invariably involved a prolonged and exhausting hand to hand struggle with many wounded on both sides; at Restellou (1346), the fighting lasted all day. This was not to everyone’s taste, and, in many cases, it was easier to ride on. Vineyards also played a significant part in deterring cavalry, being mostly impenetrable to horsemen, apart from those who knew the terrain and could turn it to their advantage, when, as with hedges, they might be used for an ambush or as part of an aggressive defense. Men-at-arms, whether mounted or dismounted, were most successful when combined with missile troops, either in supporting the archers and increasing their effectiveness, or using them to provide cover for cavalry movements, as at Auberoche (1345).324 Continental men-at-arms worked in an integrated fashion with both mounted and dismounted crossbowmen, in a similar way to which their English counterparts combined with archers carrying the longbow.

320 Oman,

History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, 2:392. Goodwin, Fatal Colours, p. 164: “the largest one-day death toll on British soil.” A. W. Boardman, The Battle of Towton (Stroud, 1994), pp. 1–3, pp. 105–06 for a discussion of the accuracy of the casualty figures. 322 Xenophon, Anabasis, 2.4.6. tr. Brownson, p. 179. 323 Rogers, “Frontier Warfare,” p. 232. 324 Vale, War and Chivalry, 124. Burne, Crécy War, pp. 108–09: the archers gave flanking fire on the French encampment from the edge of a wood, while the English cavalry charged. 321

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Mounted crossbowmen often supported the cavalry, firing at close quarters in the mêlée.325 In all cases whether mounted or dismounted it was order and cohesion that mattered and the timely use of reserves. Olivier de Clisson thought this was best achieved with smaller, well-trained units of experienced companions, a sentiment echoed by Christine de Pizan.326 Verbruggen considered men-at-arms “the complete warriors of western society,” due to their versatility whether fighting on horseback, on foot at sieges, in naval warfare, or dismounting in the field to strengthen the infantry.327 The English, however, became so inured to fighting on foot, that it “degraded their mounted fighting skills,” to the extent that they were generally considered no match for the French on horseback, being less “adextres à cheval” than their opponents.328 After the Burgundian siege of Calais (1436), there is little evidence of the English using their horsemen in a decisive way, while French cavalry was instrumental in achieving final victory in the Hundred Years’ War.329 The English neglect of mounted men-at-arms continued into the Tudor period, as did their obsession with fighting on foot, mirrored by developments in their armor, which from 1465 onwards reflected some renewed interest in mounted combat, though one too late to alter a tactical practice that ultimately lost France.330

325 Strickland

and Hardy, The Great Warbow, pp. 134–35. Gassmann, “Cavalry in Medieval Warfare,” p. 159. 326 Bertrand du Guesclin, tr. Bryant, p. 139: “I’ve read in many a work that greater numbers often lose! A small, well-ordered force of loyal, devoted friends are worth more in battle than a horde… when there are so many they never work as one, some hang back while others rush ahead.” Christine de Pizan, Le livre des faits et bonnes moeurs du sage roi Charles V, p. 174. Jones, Bloodied Banners, p. 13: “Cohesion, discipline and close order when fighting were considered vital for foot troops, and it was no less so for the cavalry.” Troops, however, should not become so compact that they were unable to charge or use their weapons: Verbruggen, The Art of Warfare, pp. 74–75. 327 Ibid., p. 106. 328 Capwell, Armour of The English Knight, p. 19. In 1435, Hughes de Lannoy, an experienced soldier, considered that the English did not know how to fight on horseback: Charles Potvin, “Hughes de Lannoy, 1384–1456,” Compte rendu des séances de la com. roy. d’hist. de Belgique, 6 (1879), 137: “iceulx Engles ne se combatant pas volentiers à cheval, pour ce quils n’ont pas gens à ce faire, mais à pié.” Sir John Fastolf’s report (1435) expressed concerns about the effectiveness of French cavalry: Letters and Papers Illustrative of the Wars of the English in France during the Reign of Henry the Sixth, King of England, ed. Joseph Stevenson, 2 vols. in 3 parts (London, 1861–64), 2, pt 2:584. Chastellain, Oeuvres, 1:226, thought “the English couldn’t hold their own on horseback against the French,” “et que communément les Anglois ne peuvent tenir route à cheval contre les François, s’ils ne mettent pied à terre et commençèrent l’estrif à cheval.” Le Jouvencel, 2:232; 2:298, where the duke d’Ath is considered to represent Bedford. 329 Verbruggen, The Role of Cavalry in Medieval Warfare, pp. 69–70. The Brut, 2:575, 2:578 for English mounted exploits at the Burgundian siege of Calais. 330 Gilbert John Millar, Tudor Mercenaries and Auxiliaries, 1485–1547 (Charlottesville, NC, 1980), p. 23, the lack of heavy cavalry continued well into Tudor times, with Sebastian Giustinian remarking that the English made little use of men-at-arms.

8 A Battle is Its Ground: Conflict Analysis and a Case Study of Agincourt, 1415 Michael Livingston

Building from the baseline proposition that terrain plays a central role in conflict, the author presents a potential methodology for the location and reconstruction of ancient and medieval battles using the widest possible accumulation of data and technologies. Though touching on the battles of Thermopylae in 480 BC and Crécy in 1346, the primary case study used for the methodology is Agincourt in 1415, with the result being a tentative suggestion that the traditional site of the battle may be in error. This essay is a slightly expanded version of the paper given as De Re Militari’s Journal of Medieval Military History Annual Lecture at the International Congress on Medieval Studies on 9 May 2022. A battle is its ground. Armchair experts can forget the central role of terrain in a battle, but the truth known by anyone who has experienced or closely analyzed combat is that the ground, perhaps more than any other single factor, shapes the conflict that takes place upon its surface. It is nearly impossible to understand how a fight unfolded unless we have stood where it took place and reckoned lines-of-sight, ease-ofmaneuver, and everything else that is fundamentally built upon the topography. This holds for most conflicts today – at the time of this writing we are seeing it in real time in Ukraine – but it is an absolutely essential truth for pre-modern battles, in which the combatants had no recourse to aerial reconnaissance or detailed mapping information. What the fighters could see is more or less what they knew, so for us to comprehend their actions in the fight, we must try to see what they saw. In many cases, unfortunately, we cannot be sure where battles took place, meaning we do not always have a ground to examine. The further back in time we go the more likely this is to be a problem. For many ancient battles, our sources do not give us enough information to figure out precisely where fighting took place beyond the roughest triangulations. In some cases, we know little more than the region in which a battle took place, which is not terribly helpful at all. Even when we do have fairly certain locations, we often find that our historical battlefields have long ago been lost to human development – construction and agriculture, mostly – or to natural forces that have so drastically reshaped the landscape that a modern survey can seem nearly useless. Though we can

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attempt to mitigate such problems to one degree or another, even the smallest loss of signal can dramatically curtail our ability to speak with confidence about what happened in a given battle, which inevitably has an adverse effect on our understanding of the history of warfare on larger scales. All this to say what should be plainly obvious: a battle is its ground, so we should seize any opportunity to identify and confirm battle grounds where their recovery is even remotely possible. Yet this has not often been a matter of great interest for historians. Judging from the historiography, battlefield locations have been, with a few notable exceptions, largely regarded as either beyond recovery or as already established fact. And, in the latter case, most of our “known” battlefields are located without any positive confirmation via conflict archaeology: we “know” where the site is because that is where people believe the site to be. It is, in a word, tradition. The battle of Crécy is a familiar case in point here. Verified battlefields have revealed a trove of archaeological remains: the detritus of war from an engagement like Crécy should constitute tens of thousands of items.1 Multiple archaeological surveys of the traditional site of the battle, however, have accumulated exactly zero.2 This is one of the many problems I have with that site, which also does not make tactical or logistical sense or even match the location of the battle given in our sources. In an essay in The Battle of Crécy: A Casebook, I therefore suggested that the battle ought to be relocated to a different site that was identified on the basis of the location data in our sources.3 I have since refined this position – and the battle reconstruction upon it – in Crécy: Battle of Five Kings.4 My primary fault in these efforts, I have been told, is that if I am right then a long parade of previous historians would be wrong. This is not the winning counter-argument I think it is supposed to be. History, at least as I was taught it, acknowledges but does not worship at the altar of historiography. At a foundational level, historians must interrogate our forebears just as we must interrogate ourselves. To be clear, though, I would never condone such an interrogation if it was driven by a desire to attack tradition. Our aim should only be the refinement of our knowledge about the past – whether than means confirmation or denial of our previously held assumptions is quite beside the point. If we interrogate a battle site location with the result that we reconfirm our assumptions, this is a good thing indeed.

1

2 3 4

For an example of the abundance of artifacts to be expected – their numbers multiplied by the field-stripping of corpses that is usually trotted out as a reason for their absence – see Veronica Fiorato, Anthea Boylston, and Christopher Knüsel, Blood Red Roses: The Archaeology of a Mass Grave from the Battle of Towton, AD 1461 (Oxford, 2000). Philip Preston, “The Traditional Battlefield of Crécy,” in The Battle of Crécy, 1346, ed. Andrew Ayton and Philip Preston (Woodbridge, 2005), pp. 119–21. Michael Livingston, “The Location of the Battle of Crécy,” in The Battle of Crécy: A Casebook, ed. Livingston and Kelly DeVries (Liverpool, 2015), pp. 415–38. Michael Livingston, Crécy: Battle of Five Kings (Oxford, 2022), pp. 179–258.



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Likewise, if our assumptions are shown to be unfounded, this, too, is a good thing: we are able to more closely fit our understandings of the past to what really happened. More than that, we are also afforded the opportunity to begin the self-reflective work of investigating why the data we are recovering about the past did not fit with our previous assumptions. Does the problem lie within our data or our assumptions? It can turn out, for instance, that once we drill down through the historiography, we discover that the traditional account has been a game of telephone without evidence from the start. We have been building houses on shifting sands. And, again, this matters. A battle is its ground. So what I am going to do here is present a working methodology for conflict analysis: specifically the location and reconstruction of pre-modern battles. Like any methodology of such a broad scope, it will not be one-size-fits all, but I hope it can be one-size-fits-most. Most especially, I hope it will inspire more work to be done on the subject. And because a methodology’s usefulness is best judged by its output, I am going to be running through a rudimentary examination of the battle of Agincourt in 1415 as a case study5 – though I will be referring to other battles as examples along the way. There are, as I am presenting them here, ten basic steps to this program. The first step is this: Step 1: Identify the Vulgata When Kelly DeVries and I were editing the Crécy Casebook, Niccolo Capponi, who was helping us with the voluminous Italian data, termed our starting point the Vulgata: the story everyone knows. It is important that we keep it in mind as we start our investigation, and that we remember that it is not what we truly know about our target. It is what we think we know. Maybe it will prove true. Maybe it will not. Finding out is the point of the exercise. I am hoping we are all familiar with the Vulgata for Agincourt, but as a reminder, here is the basic idea: Henry V took position on the northern side of the village of Maisoncelle, facing a significantly larger French adversary that was some distance away. When the French refused to charge him, he advanced the English army into the narrow confines between the forests surrounding the modern towns of Azincourt and Tramecourt, bringing them within bowshot. From here, a volley of English arrows provoked the charge of the French, whose advantage in numbers was hampered by the confines of the narrow space and muddy ground. The French attacks were further funneled by long lines of archers that Henry had placed as 5

I note the “rudimentary” quality of this endeavor, as the task at hand is to discuss the process of the methodology rather than to draw any firm conclusions from it. My more detailed study of the battle of Agincourt, which builds upon but does not match that presented here in all respects, appears in my forthcoming Agincourt: Battle of the Scarred King (Oxford, 2023).

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wings to either side of his dismounted center. The punishing shots from longbows sent the French cavalry wheeling back into their own advancing men, further slowing any momentum they might have had. The arrows continued to fly. When the lines finally struck, the English line flexed but held, and the exhausted French men-at-arms piled up in their destruction. The English carried the day. The Vulgata is the working hypothesis that we will soon test for viability. Step 2: All-Source Analysis Agincourt happened. It was an occurrence at a historical place and time. Lacking omniscience, however, we cannot recover the fullness of any dataset about it. This is the basic tragedy of writing history. We begin from a position of loss, and while we may endeavor to fill the gap between ourselves and the Truth (with a capital-T), we can never close it. Our work will be, intrinsically and inevitably, deficient. As we aim to minimize that deficiency, we can and should reach for anything and everything we can. As it happens, there is a lot we can reach for in conflict analysis. Any event in question, occurring at a historical place and time, was subjected to – was connected to – the entire range of natural phenomena, to say nothing of the internal and external human forces at play. So one of the first things we have to wrap our head around is that the departmental silos of modern academia have little to no bearing at all on the reconstitution of past events. Geology and hydrology determined the landscape.6 Psychology determined the mindset. Meteorology determined the weather. Sociology determined the sides. Narratology determined the memorialization of it. And on and on. True, some of these fields of knowledge may play a lesser or greater part depending on the event. Some might also be irrecoverable. But they were, in the past moment, all present and all associated. As a result, we should, whenever we approach a conflict, try to access every strand of data that we can, whether familiar or unfamiliar. In my methodology, I borrow from the three-letter agencies of the United States government, who call this kind of intelligence gathering “All-Source Analysis.”7 6

7

The increasing availability of Geographical Information System (GIS) software and publicly available data sets is driving a growing interest in landscape archaeology. As an example of the kind of productive work that can result in an inherently problematic region, see, e.g., Nele Vanslembrouck, Alexander Lehouck, and Erik Thoen, “Past Landscapes and Present-Day Techniques: Reconstructing Submerged Medieval Landscapes in the Western Part of Sealand Flanders,” Landscape History 27 (2005), 51–64; and Gerben Verbrugghe, Veerle Van Eetvelde, Steven Vanderputten, and Wim De Clercq, “Nieuw-Roeselare – Landscape Archaeological and Historical Geographical Research on Deserted Medieval Settlements in the Borderlands of Flanders and Zealand,” Geoscape 14 (2020), 96–107. For a simplified overview of this approach, see Livingston and Myke Cole, “All-Source Analysis: The Key to Unlocking the Past,” Ancient Warfare 11/4 (2017), 10–14.



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There are literary sources and (rare but exciting) material sources. There are the contextual probabilities of the history of warfare as we understand it. There are secondary sources of experimental archaeology, strategic and tactical modeling, as well as local lore and toponyms. At this stage of the game, we must aim to bring every related scrap possible into a single targeting package. Sometimes, it will not be much. If we are very lucky, however, we will find ourselves facing a large amount of data in want of organization. This is especially true, I have found, when it comes to the literary sources, where we ought to be gathering every whisper that might relate to the target. It may go without saying, but because the more we gather the more likely we are to triangulate the past, our initial gathering of information should be undertaken as impartially as possible, regardless of its date, genre, language of origin, or anything else. To help make a vast amount of literary data manageable (though the same could be done for any and all of the data in a targeting package), I build spreadsheets to organize my material. Initially a spreadsheet may only have a single sheet recording such bland values as the Date, Author, Title, Language, and Publication status of the various documents, but quite quickly the sheets can begin to multiply as I collate other streams of data. What date is given for the battle, for instance? What location? What numbers for the armies? What numbers for the dead? Who are the named participants? Ideally, we record the original language data for as much of this evidence as possible. Among the things DeVries and I discovered with Crécy was that translators can and will change their translations in order to make their texts better fit the Vulgata. Perhaps the most telling instance of this involved Henry Knighton’s Chronicle, which identifies the site of the battle as “Westglyse.” In a remarkable achievement of circular reasoning, scholars amended Knighton’s text to read “Watteglise,” an area vaguely close to the traditional location of the battle, and then pointed to the emended text as support for the traditional location.8 The more “raw” our material is, the better. As an initial scrape of our gathered data, we may look for what does or does not fit with the Vulgata. Difference, we find, wants explanation. The other thing it may be useful to begin to identify at this early stage is the emergence of patterns. Does variance group into “families” of data? And what does that tell us? Does this organization prompt further collation of data? Figure 8.1, for instance, is one of my many spreadsheets for analyzing Crécy data. This one records the names given for the battle dead within each source, and, importantly, the order in which those dead are named. Patterns here can provide insight into the transmission of stories about the event: the same names in the same order may suggest – though hardly guarantee – the potential existence of a common origin, whether by direct copying of text or a shared source such as a newsletter or mortuary roll. As something of a side-note, this has also been a useful way, when someone writes to tell me about another chronicle fragment about Crécy, to make an 8

See Livingston, “Location,” pp. 421–22.

Figure 8.1  The Crécy Dead. Sample portion of a spreadsheet containing data on the dead at Crécy according to fourteenth-century sources: numbers within a cell refer to the order in which they are named in each source. (Michael Livingston).



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initial hypothesis about the fragment’s identity and origin. A matching list of the dead is often been due to the fact that we are dealing with a variant recension of a known source. Step 3. Initial Mapping If anyone has physically surveyed the assumed site of the battle – with negative or positive results – we will have also gathered that information in Step 2. But while texts may lend themselves to spreadsheets, this kind of geo-located information does not. My practice is to treat this material in a separate step, wherein I input all geo-locatable data into modeling software that allows us to visualize patterns and possibility on the actual landscape. My typical base of operations is Google Earth Pro. Not only is it a relatively powerful and flexible tool, but it also allows me to share my geo-location data across the world with as many fellow scholars as needed: after populating the landscape in question with geo-located pins and outlines of features, deployments, roads, or whatever else I require, I can produce a shareable “.kmz” file that can be sent to colleagues for viewing and comment. As layers of geo-location data pile up, these maps can become quite busy. Figure 8.2 is a screenshot of my current Google Earth file for the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Visible here is just a fraction of the information I have geo-located for this project. Not all projects reach this level of complexity and detail, but when they do I organize my information within folders and sub-folders that act as layers I can turn on and off as needed. Something else to note at this point is that Google Earth Pro allows for vertical elevation exaggeration, which I typically set to maximum: the software converts one foot of real-world elevation into three feet of visual difference when the terrain is displayed. In other words, what I am seeing in Google Earth is a distorted, amplified landscape: the topographic features literally stand out taller or sink in lower. Given my overriding interest in the terrain – a battle is its ground! – I find this to be advantageous in making my preliminary assessments. As with any tool, however, we have to be careful with Google Earth. The process by which it models terrain can create blind spots, which is best explained by understanding how its datasets are built and presented. At a basic level, for example, the three-dimensional image of Google Earth’s terrain modeling is created by calculating the slope between measured points of elevation and then superimposing existing satellite imagery upon that calculation. Figure 8.3 shows an example of the problem that can result. Here we are looking at Google Earth’s model for the famed Middle Gate at Thermopylae, where Leonidas tried to hold the pass against the Persians. It appears to be a simple mountain side, sloping down to the plain. But the line I have superimposed upon the landscape shows the route of the ancient road, which is actually bending around a hill that Google Earth’s model simply erases. Figure 8.4 shows the same landscape viewed from a drone I recently flew on the site, where the hill is revealed to be a very dominant landscape feature.

Figure 8.2  Thermopylae. The proliferation of Google Earth “pins” upon an elevation exaggeration model of the pass of Thermopylae, Greece. (Michael Livingston. Image © 2022 Maxar Technologies. Reproduced courtesy of Google Earth.)

Figure 8.3  The Phocian Wall. Google Earth display of the Middle Gate at Thermopylae, Greece with vertical exaggeration, overlaid by features pertinent to events in 480 BC. (Michael Livingston. Image © 2022 Maxar Technologies. Reproduced courtesy of Google Earth.)

Figure 8.4  The Phocian Wall: a drone’s-eye view. The Middle Gate at Thermopylae in Spring 2022: note the route of the ancient road in a depression in the landscape to the left of the hill upon which the so-called Phocian Wall was built. (Michael Livingston.)

Figure 8.5  Roads to Agincourt. Google Earth overlay of the network of minor and major roads ahead of the English army after the crossing of the Ternoise in 1415. Points A and B respectively mark the locations of the English and French armies when they could first come into view of one another. Blocks of woods are marked for their sizes in 1825, per below. (Michael Livingston. Map data © 2022 Google Earth. Reproduced courtesy of Google Earth.)



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This hill is enormously important, since it is crested by the Phocian Wall that was integral to the defense of the pass. The pass itself is really only defensible, in fact, due to the road needing to make a bend through this particular landscape. On Figure 8.5, looking between the points marked A and B, we can see that the opposite problem occurs near Agincourt, where Google Earth’s modeling produces a ridgeline (we can see the road going over a hump in the forest) that is, in reality, the middle of a shallow valley in the landscape. Because this low area is not suitable for farming, large trees have grown in it, and the satellite information that is producing the “elevation” of the landscape in this spot is pinging off the treetops. Satellite imagery is powerful, and the tools it enables are truly revolutionary, but at present they can only be trusted to a point. So while I use visualization software to keep track of geo-location information, I confirm what I think I am seeing with traditional, ground-survey topographic mapping and (in a later step) on-site investigations. Step 4: Find the Roads Wars are won and lost in logistics. We need to know where lines of supply and lines of communication might have run across the landscape. We need to know where and how armies would have moved across it. We need to find the roads. This can be easier said than done. If we are working in areas formerly controlled by Rome, one of our first ports of call might be the many atlases – including some marvelous online versions9 – that attempt to map the Roman road network. These roads were vital arteries of travel, and over time they dictated the growth of cities, the movements of people, and even our perceptions of time, distance, and direction. More than this, they typically far outlasted Rome. Beyond these, a lot of work has been done on smaller, regional scales, locating the additional networks of medieval roads. When we do not have existing resources with enough granular detail to find what we need, we will need to cast a wide net to find what we can. Pre-industrialization maps can be a treasure trove, showing where wagon routes ran of old. For Crécy, for instance, I made heavy use of the early nineteenth-century cadastral maps. By physically surveying the ground at the field level, these records mark where the “ancient” roads ran on the landscape – almost invariably the main medieval routes of travel. The same maps can also contain additional information, like local field names that might interest us – the toponyms that we gathered in Step 2 and will have geo-located in Step 3. The 1825 cadastral map for Maisoncelle, for instance, where Henry V spent the night before the battle of Agincourt, records the local field name “Anglais,” which could be pertinent.10 9 10

One of the more fascinating and flexible of these projects is ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World, https://orbis.stanford.edu/. Archives départementales du Pas-de-Calais, ref. 3P541/2.

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Diving back into Google Earth, we can add more overlays of information. The paths of all known roads must be added, as well as any other information gleaned from that search, like field-names that may (or may not) be connected to the battle. As we move through these processes, we must begin to understand the ways in which the landscape will have changed over time. A river can shift its course. Forests can be stripped away.11 Old maps can be helpful in providing some indication of these kinds of changes, though recourse to additional strands of data from geology and hydrology will be needed to reverse the landscape more fully. If we look back to Figure 8.3, for instance, we can see that I have marked the shoreline of the Malian Gulf in 480 BC, which was determined by geological core samplings.12 This work shows that the shoreline upon which Leonidas would have stood is about 20 meters below the surface and was of a vastly different nature than what we see today. The Malian Gulf beside Thermopylae is an extreme case, however. A very particular set of geological circumstances has led to these enormous changes. Most of our historical record is not nearly so deep underground, meaning some of its traces are still perceptible in the modern landscape. Here, we are able to turn to Lidar – a portmanteau of “light” and “radar” – which is a technology with the means to strip the earth of vegetation in order to provide topographic detail of the earth’s surface. It is a massively powerful tool.13 Step 6: Test the Vulgata Combining our spreadsheets, our sources, and our accumulated knowledge of warfare, we can now run some initial tests of the Vulgata. Our aim is to see, from what we immediately have at hand, whether the story of the battle as we know it fits the world as we know it.

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Changes in river courses are often self-evident upon the landscape, but deforestation is more difficult to ascertain. For an attempt to establish estimates of European forest cover over time, see Jed O. Kaplan, Kristen M. Krumhardt, and Niklaus Zimmermann, “The Prehistoric and Preindustrial Deforestation of Europe,” Quaternary Science Reviews 28 (2009), 3016–34. This is the result of two primary studies: John C. Kraft, “Geology of the Great Isthmus Corridor,” in The Great Isthmus Corridor Route: Explorations of the Phokis-Doris Expedition, Volume I, ed. Edward W. Kate, George J. Szemler, Nancy C. Wilkie, and Paul W. Wallace (Dubuque, IA, 1991), pp. 1–16; and Konstantinos Vouvalidis et al., “Palaeogeographical Reconstruction of the Battle Terrain in Ancient Thermopylae, Greece,” Geodinamica Acta 23/5–6 (2010), 241–53. For an example of this, see the Lidar elevation heat map that I produced as part of the search for the battle of Brunanburh, in Michael Livingston, Never Greater Slaughter: Brunanburh and the Birth of England (Oxford, 2021), pp. 163–68 and figure 21.



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How we do this depends a great deal on what information we have to do it with. In the case of Agincourt, a relatively simple test of the Vulgata now available to us is to transfer the men we are told ought to be there onto the landscape we are told they ought to be on. The Vulgata of Agincourt says that the battle lines ultimately met on the woodland-narrowed field near or on the little road between today’s towns of Azincourt and Tramecourt.14 This space was, when Sir John Woodford surveyed it in 1818, roughly 700 yards wide, and it remains close to these dimensions today.15 How many men need to fit here? Looking back at our source data, the Gesta Henrici Quinti stands out. It was written early, around 1417 – the eighteenth source on my basic spreadsheet. Early sources are usually (but not always) a good thing. It comes from an eyewitness, which is also usually (but not always) a good thing. Other studies have also found it one of the most reliable accounts for the English perspective.16 Pertinent to our present purposes, it also has the smallest size for the English army at the battle. The Gesta tells us that the English army, on leaving Harfleur on the 8th October, consisted of 900 men-at-arms and 5,000 archers, for a total fighting force of 5,900 men.17 By the day of the battle on the 25th October, some of these would have been lost to disease, desertion, death, and disorder. Combing through our sources, it looks like these might be counted in the dozens, but let us imagine that a great many more were nevertheless lost. If we estimated a 10–12 percent loss, Henry would be left with roughly 800 men-at-arms and 4,500 archers, for a total fighting force of 5,300 men. To be clear, I believe this to be very much on the low side. Anne Curry’s remarkable work on the campaign’s muster rolls and other source material points to a number that is significantly higher: “a few hundred either side of 9,000 men.”18 This number is almost assuredly closer to the mark. But for the point of this exercise, I am nevertheless going to stick with the smallest number of men in the English army that one can possibly conceive, even if I think it is significantly less than the likely reality. 14

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16 17 18

Among the few scholars to take note of the tactical potential of this road running across the traditional site is Clifford J. Rogers, who suggests this as Henry’s line in what is one of the finest current studies of the battle: “The Battle of Agincourt,” in The Hundred Years War, Part II: Different Vistas, ed. L. J. Andrew Villalon and Donald Kagay (Leiden, 2008), p. 90. Woodford’s original survey survives as British Library Additional MS 16368, map C. It is reproduced as figure 2 in Anne Curry’s excellent The Battle of Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations (Woodbridge, 2000). This exceedingly useful book provides great service as a “one-stop shop” for most of the primary texts referencing the battle, for which reason it will be the source for the primary texts cited in the remainder of this essay. See, for instance, Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 22. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 27. Curry, Agincourt: A New History (Stroud, 2005), pp. 187–88. More precisely, Curry later went on to estimate a count of 8,680 men on the English side: see Great Battles: Agincourt (Oxford, 2015), p. 25.

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Multiple sources speak to the thinness of the English formation that day. Tito Livio Frulovisi’s Vita Henrici Quinti (c. 1438) says that their ranks were “scarcely four deep.”19 Some historians have tried to suggest that this thinness only applies to the men-at-arms in the English line, but the sources make no distinction of this kind.20 In fact, Pseudo-Elmham’s Vita et Gesta Henrici Quinti (c. 1446–49) rather explicitly denies it: “the English army, in all its lines, was fortified sideways by only four ranks of men, one behind the other.”21 5,300 men, placed four ranks deep on the field, would give us an English line that would have been roughly 1,325 men abreast. How can we map this? Well, the average man in battle occupies an average area upon its ground. This number value will depend on how closely packed the men are, which very much revolves around tactics, technology, and terrain. Shoulder-to-shoulder in a line-up over flat ground, human beings occupy roughly two feet each.22 But ours is not the business of packing sardines. In the case of Agincourt, what we need is an estimation of the suitable operational area necessary for early fifteenth-century men-at-arms and archers. This is a matter in which we can and should welcome the insights of experimental archaeology. Experimenting with my cadets at The Citadel, for instance, we encountered substantial operational difficulties – that is, fighters were in danger of disrupting or outright harming their fellow fighters – at anything less than five feet per man. As with the total number of men in Henry’s army, however, let us cut this down considerably. For the purpose of this exercise, we will assume a mere three linear feet per man – essentially allowing only two feet of space between men on the line. We also will not bother to add any spacing between divisions or any room of operational maneuverability at all. I do not think this could conform to reality on the day, but, again, it is as conservative as I think we can be. At this basis, a line of 1,325 men abreast would be 1,325 yards wide – 625 yards wider than the narrow confines of the traditional field of Agincourt. But, of course, the English didn’t form a straight line. And the formation men take can greatly change the length of their line. His great-grandfather’s astonishing victory at Crécy had proved to Henry V the power of a formation with forward-swept wings of archers that could pack advancing French knights into a strengthened center. Such a formation is precisely what the Gesta and later sources describe upon the field at Agincourt. Henry divided his army into three parts: two wings of archers and a center mass

19 20 21 22

Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 60. See, for instance, Rogers, “Battle of Agincourt,” p. 52. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 71. For sake of comparison, the mean unclothed shoulder width (with elbows tucked in) of male personnel in the United States Army in 1966 was 18 inches. See Robert M. White and Edmund Churchill, The Body Size of Soldiers – U.S. Army Anthropometry – 1966 (Natick, MA, 1971), p. 115. My estimate of 24 inches attempts to consider armor and the need to position one’s arms to the sides of the body if holding weapons.



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of men-at-arms on foot, prepared to stand against the weight of the French charge. Unlike Edward III at Crécy, however, Henry V was desperately short of men-at-arms. Rather than pin all his hopes on such a tiny infantry center, he split the men of this center into three battles that were separated by groups of archers that the Gesta describes as “wedges.”23 This would effectively widen his center. Assuming this was the formation, how many men were in its various parts? And, rather importantly, at what angles were the wings and the wedges made? The answers to these questions will have a direct result on the total width of the English line from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. Think about the line as a piece of paper, seen on end: the wings and the wedges would be like folds, which can “accordion” open or shut. The wider those folds and the sharper their angles, the more the paper can get squished together. The men-at-arms, at least, make for simple mathematical work. Our “lowball” number of 800 divides into three battles of about 267 men each. With the men placed four ranks deep, each battle would have a frontage of 67 men abreast: approximately 201 feet when tightly packed. The archers are where things get quite speculative, but I will here estimate that the wings and wedges of the formation press forward at forty-five-degree angles. This is the angle utilized by the reconstruction at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, and it conveniently makes the English line fairly narrow without pushing the points of the wedges (potential weak points) too far out in front of the lines. Furthermore, I will suggest 500 archers in the two wedges: 250 men on each side of the “triangle.” Four ranks deep, this means frontages of 63 men or 189 feet. Thanks to Pythagoras, we can calculate the base of the wedges along the plane of the men-at-arms to be about 267 feet each. The wings, each with 1,750 men, would be 438 men abreast or 1,314 feet wide. Calculating this once more to the plane of the men-at-arms gives us 929 feet. Our overall width of the English formation from tip to tip (straight across, at the base of the trapezoid) is therefore almost exactly 1,000 yards in total, assuming absolutely zero unit division.24 This is still 300 yards too wide for the field surveyed by Woodford in 1818. Figure 8.6 shows this position, fixing its right flank against the line of the Tramecourt woods. The left flank of the English, thus positioned, would be fixed upon the French castle of Azincourt. Our sources often speak of the narrowness of the field of battle, how the English line filled it from tree-line to tree-line. As Pseudo-Elmham describes their position: “Being so arrayed, the providence of the divine favour was manifestly shown, which provided for so small an army so suitable a field, enclosed within hedges and trees, and with closes and hedges on the sides, to protect them from being surrounded by the enemy’s attacks.”25 Seeking such a narrow field between woods, it is no surprise that as scholars we have been drawn to what looks like a narrow field from the eye of the individual scholar standing upon it 23 24 25

Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 34. The debate over the existence and nature of these wedges is not one I wish to enter here. I.e., 929 + 201 + 267 + 201 + 267 + 201 + 929 = 2,995 feet. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 70.

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Figure 8.6  Agincourt: The Vulgata. Topographical map of the region around Azincourt, with forests approximating an extension of their nineteenth-century extents. The traditional location of the battle is marked here, in close proximity to the site of the French castle of Azincourt present in 1415, indicated here as a black square. (Image from Livingston, Agincourt: Battle of the Scarred King © Osprey Publishing).

today. But this present egocentrism is of little value to history: whether the field feels narrow to us personally is entirely inconsequential. All that matters is that the field must be narrow relative to the numbers that need to be put upon it. And the numbers we have just gone through indicate that the traditional site appears to be too narrow as it stands. Worse, the narrow field between the wooded areas of modern Azincourt and Tramecourt might well have been narrower in 1415. Forested spaces tend to diminish over time due to trees being taken out for building, heating, and farming, among other things. Often, we have to surmise the existence of completely erased woods by their place-names remaining on the landscape. The erasure of forest is, in fact, somewhat essential to the Vulgata understanding of Agincourt: there’s not much of a wood at Azincourt today, but for the “narrow” landscape battle to make sense they must have been there in 1415, protecting Henry’s left flank. (The fact that the left flank is instead up against a French fortification that is inexplicably ignored in the fighting no doubt begs its own questions.) When all is said and done, the traditional site appears too narrow to fit even the smallest possible raw numbers on the English side – which is still many thousands of men fewer than the total number of men that Curry has shown were likely to be there.



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Step 7. Evaluate and Revise The steps we take next depend on how well the Vulgata has tested in Step 6. We might be in a position to declare preliminary confidence in what we think we know and simply build upon it. This is, quite frankly, what I hope to find when I am asked to analyze a conflict: it is far easier to build upon an existing foundation than to begin one from scratch. In the present case, however, the testing did not go well. At least on an initial sketching of the lines, the English army does not appear to fit where it must go in 1415. So what do we do? Faced with the choice between an assumed location being wrong or the sources being wrong, most critics have tended to decide the sources must be the problem. For Agincourt, we might throw out the reports of four-ranksthin lines, or place the archers in the center in front of the three groups of men-at-arms rather than between them – the Agincourt model on display at the Royal Armouries in Leeds does both – in order to squeeze the men into the traditional location. Ignore the sources, and it turns out we can make pretty much anything work! To be sure, our sources can very much be wrong. I have already suggested that the Gesta, though our best source for understanding the battle of Agincourt, is nevertheless likely in error regarding the numbers involved. The repeated claims that the English ranks were scarcely four men deep might likewise be an exaggeration. We cannot remove this possibility. In fact, it would be something we might be forced to move from possibility to probability – and thereby work to explain – if we had clear reason to believe that this was so. For instance, if we had evidence – objective proof, beyond tradition, beyond the weight of repeated assumption – that the battle of Agincourt really had to happen on the traditional field, then we would of necessity need to determine how and why our sources are in error on such basic facts. But we have no such evidence. In 2015 – the 600th anniversary of Henry V’s famed victory – conflict archaeologist Tim Sutherland surveyed the state of modern archaeological investigations upon this traditional site of the battle of Agincourt: despite significant fieldwork that had uncovered Roman and other early artifacts, he reported, nothing attributable to the fight had been found on the narrow field between the French towns of Azincourt and Tramecourt. In fact, he concluded, “there is currently no recorded physical evidence of the battle ever having taken place!”26 A pervading unease no doubt rests behind the humor of Sutherland’s statement. The battle did take place, of course. Yet the dearth of evidence upon the Vulgata location is highly problematic. We know from other extant battle surveys that even preliminary fieldwork within a search area as limited as the traditional

26

Tim Sutherland, “The Battlefield,” in The Battle of Agincourt, ed. Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer (New Haven, CT, 2015), p. 201.

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Figure 8.7  Detail of the De l’Isle Map of 1704. This shows the major roads and woods on the landscape around Azincourt. Guillaume de l’Isle, “Carte d’Artois et des Environs,” Paris, 1704. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, MS GE DD-2987 (436), via Europeana.eu. (Image in the Public Domain.)

site of Agincourt ought to produce archaeological evidence on the order of thousands if not tens of thousands of objects.27 Having nothing is not good. Sutherland has suggested that an obvious explanation for the dearth of evidence is that the traditional site of the battle might be incorrect. In 2006, he suggested that it could be resituated to a location north of Azincourt near Ruisseauville.28 Then, in the conclusion to his 2015 essay, he suggested instead a site to the south-east of Azincourt near Maisoncelle.29 One might say that a re-examination of the battle site would be an obvious first step given the archaeological negatives, but scholarship has shown little to no interest in taking up either of Sutherland’s suggestions. Tradition and all that. With the additional problem of the numbers involved, however, Sutherland’s impulse seems a sound one. In particular, I am going to suggest that if it was not for the Vulgata saying otherwise, an unbiased reading of our data would lead us rather directly to his second alternative – a location south and west of the traditional field. 27

28 29

Tim Sutherland, “Archaeological Evidence of Medieval Conflict – Case Studies from Towton, Yorkshire, England (1461) and Agincourt, Pas de Calais, France (1415),” Schlachtfeldarchaogie – Battlefield Archaeology. 1. Mitteldeutscher Archaologentag vom 09.bis 11. Oktober 2008 in Halle (Salle) (Halle, 2009), pp. 109–16. Timothy Sutherland, “The Battlefield of Agincourt: An Alternative Location?,” Journal of Conflict Archaeology 1 (2006), 245–63. Sutherland, “Battlefield,” p. 201.



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As it happens, Sutherland is not even the first to suggest a location that is in this vicinity. Nicholas Harris Nicolas, in the maps accompanying the second edition to his History of the Battle of Agincourt (1832), very clearly places the battle to the west of the villages of Azincourt and Maisoncelle. Curry, while usefully reprinting one of these maps in her fantastic sourcebook, notes the positioning and calls it “in error”30; or, as she later puts it in her text: “Unfortunately, too, either Nicolas, or his printer, placed the village of Agincourt to the right rather than the left of the armies.”31 As we will see, however, Nicolas may well be correct in this placement of the fight (even if I agree with Curry that his reconstruction of the battle lines is odd indeed!). For that matter, Harris was not the first to do this, either. Figure 8.7 shows the earliest map of any kind to show the location of the battle on the landscape: a 1704 map from the hand of Guillaume de l’Isle.32 Just as Harris does, de l’Isle places the battle to the west of the town of Azincourt, not to the east as tradition has it. So let us return to the methodology I have been setting forth and see if it leads us to an alternative site. Because the next step is to reconstruct the conflict based on our all-source analysis. Step 8. Reconstruction We now turn to what most of us are after: reconstructing a battle upon the terrain that we have mapped, using the accumulated data we have compiled. This is the heart of conflict analysis, and it is, despite my breakdown of the foregoing process into vaguely concrete steps, more art than science. That said, I have previously described a set of four working principles I tend to use when I am reconstructing a battle at this stage.33 They do not always apply, so they are not rules. But they apply often enough that I carry them in my pocket as a ready toolset: A Battle Is Its Ground; Follow the Roads; No Man Is a Fool; and Men Flow Like Water. We have already been emphasizing the first of these regarding the need to identify battle sites in the first place. As we turn toward reconstruction, we may well find that all apply.

30 31 32

33

Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 365. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 388. Guillaume de l’Isle, “Carte d’Artois et des Environs,” Paris, 1704. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, MS GE DD-2987 (436), www.europeana.eu/en/ item/9200517/ark__12148_btv1b8592522q. The identification of this earliest map to mark the location of Agincourt comes from J. Wesley Snyder III, “The First Maps of Agincourt,” Medieval Warfare Magazine 9/1 (2019), 25. Interestingly, when de l’Isle reissued the map in 1711, he removed the road from Azincourt south through Bucamp and moved the battle location to where the “M” in Maisoncelle is located here: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, MS GE D-15542, www.europeana.eu/ en/item/9200517/ark__12148_btv1b8493391b. See, e.g., Livingston, Never Greater Slaughter, pp. 109–17.

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Step 4 was to find the roads, because we know how important they are to military logistics. If the adversaries’ avenues of approach to a battle are known, I suggest using these roads to begin the reconstruction of events. Reminding ourselves that a Battle Is Its Ground, we can clearly see that it will help us understand what happened if we can see the terrain as it was approached. We may not be able to walk in their footsteps in a literal sense, but by no means should this diminish the importance of understanding the limitations and opportunities that the terrain afforded. If nothing else, determining the routes that the adversaries could have taken to the engagement limits the potential fields of conflict. In the case of Agincourt, there is no question about the main tracks in the area. The 1704 map of Guillaume de l’Isle records them, and they precisely fit with what we know of Roman and other major arteries of travel in the Middle Ages. There was a major road running from Hesdin towards Fruges. Another ran from St-Pol to Fruges. Between them, our cadastral maps lay out a network of the medieval tracks, which we can add as Google Earth overlays. This is what lay ahead of Henry as he approached Agincourt from the south (Figure 8.5). Roads in hand, we can trace the actions of the opposing forces as they approached one another, using the collated information of our sources. For Agincourt, the primary source we will follow is the Gesta, whose eyewitness account provides an enormous amount of topographic detail that is remarkably easy to geo-locate, though I will be sequencing this with our other sources where they provide information. The Gesta tells us that Henry and his men were weakened by dysentery and tired from their long slog through France when they arrived at the River Ternoise at Blangy on 24 October. They had been forced onto small, local wagon tracks in order to avoid contact with the larger French forces that were actively hunting them, and we can be sure that they would have been hoping to reach the main roads that were converging on Fruges to the north. Larger roads meant greater speed, and the English needed all the speed they could get if they had any hope of outrunning their enemies and reaching Calais. As we pick up the action, the Gesta reports that the nearest French forces were on the English right.34 These French troops were no doubt using the speed advantage of the major road from St-Pol to Fruges to maneuver around and ahead of the English. After having pursued the English army for a great many miles across France, they were anxious to cut off its advance towards Calais. This meant overtaking it and standing in its way. French scouts, we have to assume, were quick to relay word of the English attempting a crossing of the river. This news sent contingents peeling away from the main road as it passed through Crépy: to make the best speed possible they would have followed the track to Ambricourt and then pushed southwest towards Blangy, aiming to plunge down upon the English as they were making a vulnerable, wet-gap crossing. 34

Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 32.



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The English were efficient, though. The vanguard had already made the crossing and climbed up out of the Ternoise River valley. It was there that the two armies finally saw each other. Our eyewitness report says that when the English reached high ground after climbing out of the valley, the French – again, coming from the English right – were only “about half a mile away.”35 That the forces could have so closely approached one another before coming into visual contact implies physical obstructions, and a reconstruction of the topography shows that this was very much the case. Not only were the English down in the valley of the Ternoise, but between the English and French positions there were substantial woods. We can trace the extent of these 200 years ago on the cadastral maps and, as we would expect, we can see that in circa 1825 they were significantly larger than what we see today. It’s useful to see the difference between the forests of today and those of 1825, but we can be well assured that the woods were even more extensive in 1415. An advanced study of deforestation rates in 2009 concluded that in 1850 forests covered 6.3 percent of usable land in France, compared to an estimated 23.9 percent coverage of such lands in 1400.36 Local percentages will no doubt vary from this regional estimation, but there is nothing on the immediate natural or cultural landscape of Agincourt that would suggest any significant variance to this general rate of deforestation over time. So while we cannot know exactly how much more extensive the woods were in this area in 1415 – were they nearly four times larger, as the study suggests? – we can at least have the highest measure of confidence that they were even more extensive than they were in the nineteenth century. The outlines for the woodlands shown on Figure 8.6 attempt to estimate such an expansion. With the reconstructed topography in one hand and the knowledge of the roads in the other, we can Follow the Roads and see where the two armies would have been when they came in sight of one another. I have marked these positions as “A” and “B” on Figure 8.6, as well. The Gesta says they were roughly a half-mile from each other at this point.37 This is a remarkably accurate estimation on the ground, as the measurement by satellite is just shy of three-quarters of a mile. Our eyewitness account further states that the French were at that point in “a very broad field” when viewed from the English position, “and there was only a valley, and not so wide at that, between us and them.”38 This, too, checks out: the shallow valley is the one we observed earlier as being a “false ridgeline” in Google Earth due to its trees (Figure 8.5). And between it and Ambricourt – the open area where the French would have been seen – was truly “a very broad field.” If the French had indeed been trying to trap the English along the river, they knew now that this was not going to happen. And while they had the enemy in 35 36 37 38

Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 32. Kaplan et al., “Prehistoric and Preindustrial Deforestation of Europe,” p. 3023. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 32. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 33.

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sight, they clearly had no interest in charging down into the valley that separated them, then climbing back up it in order to engage. That would be foolish, and one of my core principles is that No Man Is A Fool. There are exceptions – that is why this is a principle and not a rule! – but our default position should never be that a leader was foolish. Instead, until proven wrong, we should assume that they made what they believed to be the best decision possible given the limitations of the knowledge they had at hand. It should not need to be said that leaving high ground in order to charge uphill toward an enemy on the facing high ground is not, generally speaking, the wisest move! Both sides shifted from marching order to rough battle lines in case the other attacked. But with the valley between them and no one a fool, neither side was interested in making that first move off high ground. Gesta describes the two armies jockeying for position, likely gauging the other’s intentions and trying to organize themselves. When it was clear that no fight would take place that day, the French carefully withdrew, we are told, and moved “to a field, at the far side of a certain wood which was close at hand to our left between us and them, where lay our road towards Calais.”39 Thomas Elmham’s Liber Metricus de Henrico Quinto (c. 1418) confirms this same basic sequence: the French appear on the English right after they cross the Ternoise, and then they “established themselves at the rear of the woods.”40 But the Gesta’s report is far more specific and detailed, allowing us to follow its directions quite literally. The traditional site would identify the Gesta’s close-at-hand wood with the woods in and around the modern village of Azincourt, which is over a mile away. In addition to this problem of distance, such a scenario would require the French to have abandoned not just Maisoncelle to Henry’s beleaguered force – there was really no way to prevent this given their starting positions – but also Azincourt, which had a small castle. Since No Man Is A Fool, it is hard to fathom a reason why this would be done. No source makes a claim that it was so. As a rule, we should not reconstruct the movements of armies based on our biased need to get them into a particular position – especially when, not to beat a dead horse, there is no evidence for them being in that position in the first place. Instead, we should reconstruct their movements based on their immediate needs, along with what they could actually see and understand of the situation at hand. Undoubtedly, the French aim was to entrap the English and put them to the sword. The second step absolutely depended on the first: now that they had caught up to the enemy, they had to be sure he was entrapped. They had to prevent Henry from reaching faster roads and any chance of escape. French forces were probably still streaming up the one from St-Pol, so that route was already not an option for Henry on 24 October. That left the road up from Hesdin. The jockeying that the Gesta describes reflects both forces moving their attention northwest towards that remaining road to Calais. The French were 39 40

Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 33. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 45.



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not retreating so that they could die on the traditional field of our imaginations. They were moving so that they could encircle the English position and ensure that their enemy was cut off from the one main road it had left. Recognizing this, the Gesta and the topography click into place. The eyewitness says that the French ended up behind the woods to the English left. As we can see from our map (Figure 8.6), the woods to the English left are almost assuredly the woods south and east of Maisoncelle. The place-names recorded here on the cadastral maps include several bois forms, and a stretch of forest here is very much the defining feature of the area in our earliest maps of the area, including the 1656 map of Nicolas Sanson, now held by the Boston Public Library.41 The field at the far side of this wood – the field in which the Gesta says the main French encampment was made – would be that which is marked on the cadastral maps as the Buisson du Grand Camp [Brush of the Large Field].42 The Gesta describes Henry ordering his army to silence as he snuck up to a village immediately before them to spend the night.43 This village that was Henry’s headquarters – the Vulgata agrees on this point – is Maisoncelle. If the French were encamped near the Buisson, and the English were in and around Maisoncelle, then they were less than half a mile from one another. This proximity between the forces on the night before the battle is cited across a wide range of our sources. Tito Fulovisi’s Vita Henrici Quinti notes that the watchmen of the French camp “were scarcely 250 paces away from the English.”44 The Mémoires de Pierre de Fenin (1430s), directly records that Henry lodged “at Maisoncelles,” while the French “came to lodge at Ruisseauville and at Azincourt and in several villages thereabout, then put themselves in the fields, and lodged so near to the host of King Henry that there was only about four bowshots between the two armies.”45 Enguerran Monstrelet’s Chronicle (1444) says much the same: after crossing the Ternoise, the English could see the French: coming from all directions in great companies of men at arms to lodge at Ruisseauville and Agincourt… Soon afterwards the constable arrived quite near to Agincourt in which place all the French assembled in a single army. They all bivouacked in the open fields close to their banners save for men of lower status who lodged in the villages close by. The king of England with all his Englishmen lodged in a little village called Maisoncelles three bow shots away from the French.46

41

42 43 44 45 46

Sanson, Atrebates: Evesché d’Arras comté d’Artois (Paris, 1656). Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, ref. 06 01 006630. Unfortunately for us, this map does not mark the site of the battle. Archives départementales du Pas-de-Calais, ref. 3P090/4. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 34. Ibid., p. 59. Ibid., p. 117. Ibid., p. 153.

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The Vita et Gesta Henrici Quinti of Pseudo-Elmham (c. 1446–49) reports that “not more than a quarter of an English mile” separated the watchfires of the two armies,47 while the eyewitness accounts of the Chronique d’Arthur de Richemont (1458 to the mid-1460s) describes the French as “lodged near the English in open country less than half a league from the host of the king of England.”48 The Chronique de Normandie (1460s) says that “the two armies were in sight of each other, and encamped near each other that night,” failing to give a specific distance.49 The eyewitness account of Jean Le Fevre’s Chronique (1460s) generally follows Monstrelet, but adds “I was with them and saw what has been described” when he notes how worried the English were when they were desperately brought into battle lines after coming out of the Ternoise valley the day before the battle. Le Fevre likewise describes how Henry “had all his battles move off to lodge at Maisoncelles [sic], which is near Agincourt… very near to the place where his enemies were which was less than a quarter of a league away, so close that you could hear them very clearly and even hear them calling each other by name.”50 The cumulative weight of the sources makes clear that the English were camped in Maisoncelle and the French were close at hand. Judged against the geography, this was for very good reason: the French had encircled the English and had seized the road that could have served as a lifeline for Henry. Regarding the battle the next day, not all of our sources move beyond the general identification of a site near Azincourt. When they do, however, we find a wide variety of triangulation in the place-names involved. Thus, while the Chronique de Ruisseauville (1420s–30s) associates the battle with “a village named Agincourt,”51 the near-contemporary allegorical poem La Pastoralet (1422–25) calls it “the battle of Ruisseauville,” which is further north.52 The Chronique anonyme du règne de Charles VI (early 1430s) seemingly splits the difference in stating that “the French and English assembled for battle around the hour of prime in a place near Agincourt and Ruisseauville,”53 yet the Memoires de Pierre de Fenin places it “between Maisoncelles and Agincourt,” which is further south.54 The traditional site, of course, is between Azincourt and Tramecourt, a location that is first specified in the 1460s by Jean Le Fevre’s Chronique: “The truth was that the French had ordered their battles between two small woods, one close to Agincourt, the other to Tramecourt.”55 Regrettably, what defines “close to” is frustratingly unknown. Similarly, Thomas Basin’s Histoire de Charles VII (1471–72) states that “This unlucky battle was fought 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

Ibid., p. Ibid., p. Ibid., p. Ibid., p. Ibid., p. Ibid., p. Ibid., p. Ibid., p. Ibid., p.

69. 183. 186. 153. 124. 351. 115. 118. 159.



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near to the town of Hesdin in the fields of two villages, the one Agincourt, the other Ruisseauville,” leaving us wondering what distance constitutes nearness and which fields belong to which village.56 The sources are at least consistent that the battle happened somewhere near Azincourt, but outside of that locality they give us little consistency with which we might pin down a specific site. For all that we can tell, any location given might depend more on the individual context of the witness – direction of travel, relative position on the field, knowledge of village names – than it does on any modern notion of precision. More useful may be the topographical information and relative positioning provided by our sources. La Pastoralet (1422–25), while couching its descriptors in allegory, nevertheless indicates a far more varied terrain than the traditional site between Azincourt and Tramecourt: “The shepherds in that flat place cried out with great, strong and high voices making the deep valleys and high trees resound with such raging that it seemed all would fall into the abyss itself at the sound of the very cry”; and, in concluding the bloodshed, “The streams run through the valleys, the rivers run red.”57 We could account this topography as owing more to rhetoric than to real terrain, but the Chronique de Normandie (1460s) quite directly places the battle at a watershed of some kind: “They were drawn up in order of battle in a valley near Agincourt,” it explains; “Such was the commencement of the battle on that day in the valley before mentioned, where the ground was so soft that the French foundered in it.”58 None of this fits the traditional site, which is flat as a proverbial ironing board. Our sources also focus on the closeness of the two armies not just during the night but at the start of the battle the next morning. According to the Religieux of Saint-Denis’ Histoire de Charles VI (c. 1415–22), the French began the battle “about 2,000 paces” away from English and had to advance through difficult ground.59 Thomas Walsingham’s St. Albans Chronicle (c. 1420–22), repeats the notion of there being an area of mud between the armies – and states that when the day began the two lines were separated by “scarcely 1,000 paces.”60 For his part, Fulovisi’s Vita Henrici Quinti places the armies as “distant from each other for scarcely two or three bow shots.”61 This proximity is tremendously useful given the eyewitness account of the Gesta, which reports that on the morning of the battle the French army “took up position in front of us in that field [in which they had camped the night before], called the field of Agincourt, across which lay our road towards Calais.” For the English king, this put the battlefield “at no great distance from his quarters” at Maisoncelle, and he called his line to order there.62 56 57 58 59 60 61 62

Ibid., p. 190. Ibid., pp. 351–52. Ibid., p. 186. Ibid., p. 106. Ibid., p. 51. Ibid., p. 60. Ibid., p. 34.

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Taken together, our methodology seems to point us away from both the traditional, too-small site of the Vulgata and the alternative northern site suggested by Sutherland in 2006. Instead, we are pushed toward a location south of the traditional site, close upon Henry’s quarters at Maisoncelle. As Sutherland noted in his 2015 article suggesting a closer look at this second alternative location, the 1825 cadastral maps of Maisoncelle offer up additional reasons to favor this area.63 Most striking at a first glance is a rise in the landscape on the west edge of the village. This spot, close beside the Bois Roger – a woods that then lay immediately east of Maisoncelle – is labeled L’Anglais [The English], which calls attention to itself as a spot of potential interest in association with the famous battle. Between L’Anglais and the broad fields that stretch from Buisson up to the hills of St-George beside Azincourt – the very fields crossed by the road to Calais – is a shallow valley labeled on the cadastral maps as Morival [Death Valley]. This feature not only matches the description of a valley between the armies that we have seen described in several of our sources already mentioned, but its presence would also help explain some reports of the coming conflict in ways that the too-narrow flat land between Azincourt and Tramecourt might not. Step 9: On-site Testing Thanks to the wonders of technology, the reconstruction of Agincourt to this point can be conducted in the comfort of an office. But, as discussed above, our technological advantages, though substantial, are not infallible. Our hypothesized understanding of what happened – forged from the hot iron of primary sources and the steady hammer of the terrain – must still withstand the final steps of conflict analysis in the dirt. We have to go there. Satellite photography and remote modeling like Google Earth approximates the ground, but it is not a replacement of it. If a battle is its ground, the conflict analyst must walk it. In the case of Agincourt, I have made multiple visits to the traditional site. Most of them have been with an eye towards finding problems with the alternate location suggested to this point – or, at the very least, some reason to still to hold on to the Vulgata. I have found none. Each visitation has only furthered my conviction that the battle of Agincourt was fought well south of the traditional assumptions, far closer to Maisoncelle. In Step 6, for instance, we tested the Vulgata using the deployment of men and found that our perhaps painfully conservative estimation of the possible width of the English line showed it was likely too wide for the traditional site. As Figure 8.8 shows, however, it is a superb fit for an army that initially pinned its left flank on the woods beside Maisoncelle and its right flank on the woods of Tramecourt. One possible interpretation of the fight from here would be an advance advanced forward on a “hinge” in order to take position along the high ground to the east of the Morival – the right flank thereby approaching 63

Archives départementales du Pas-de-Calais, ref. 3P541/2.



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Figure 8.8  Agincourt: an alternate hypothesis. Google Earth overlay of a simplified English formation overlaid upon the alternative site of the Battle of Agincourt showing its advance forward towards a potential French position along the main road to the northwest. Local place-names marked as pins. (Michael Livingston. Map data © 2022 Google Earth. Reproduced courtesy of Google Earth.)

the small castle at Azincourt. Another interpretation would be to see only the center of the English line advancing towards the French if a great many of them were located between Azincourt and Tramecourt. Depending on how one views these initial lines, they could be described as being between Maisconcelle and Azincourt, Azincourt and Tramecourt, Azincourt and Hesdin, or even – as an English pursuit moved northward and up the roads – Azincourt and Ruisseauville. Each of these descriptors, as we have seen, has been given in one primary source or another. The main French lines, as the Gesta located them and others described them, could have been both between Azincourt and Tramecourt, as well as west and northwest of Azincourt standing directly between the English and the road to Calais. Stretching easily from the Buisson to the area named on the cadastral maps as Le Bout des Haies [End of the Hedges] and on towards Tramecourt – backed by the castle rather than giving it to the enemy – these lines could parallel those of the English, largely running along their own high ground with the shallow watershed that would be named “Death Valley” between them on one side. The highest ground of the broad field immediately west of Azincourt is still today called Les Cotes de Saint-George [Hills of Saint-George] – very likely

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because they were held by the powerful and well-landed priory of Saint-George of Hesdin.64 Interestingly, Monstrelet suggests that “Elsewhere the king of England sent about 200 archers behind his army so that they would not be spotted by the French. They secretly entered a meadow near Tramecourt, quite close to the rearguard of the French, and held themselves there secretly until it was time to shoot.”65 We cannot be sure that this happened – Le Fevre and Waurin deny that such an ambush existed, based on the word of “a man of honour who was there on that day in the company of the king of England”66 – but we can be sure that it would be a veritable impossibility on the traditional site, where the final English lines before the battle are at Tramecourt. The French rearguard simply could not have been so close to the start of the fight. It does, however, potentially work with the battle moved into this new position. The French “rearguard” could be a token force that was meant to prevent the English from breaking out to the east while the battle raged to the north and west. It would make sense for the French to provide such a measure of containment, and it would likewise make sense for Henry, if he was aware of it, to be sure it did not strike him in the rear. Regardless of these preliminaries, the general positioning of the English and French lines could have been in part to face one another across the shallow valley of the Morival in this way, with each holding high, strong ground. As it was on the previous day, neither army was inclined to engage. Henry, however, knowing that every hour strengthened his enemy’s men and further exhausted his own, moved his baggage train to the rear of his line, likely near his headquarters – is this the origin for L‫‏’‏‬Anglais? – and then commanded his men to advance banners. The idea was to provoke the French charge. Here again, the Vulgata can seem strange: in that theoretical engagement, the advanced position of the English – assuming that Henry’s forces could even fit there, which it does not appear they could – would actually be more advantageous for the English than their initial position was, making it even less likely for the French to take the bait, because No Man Is A Fool. Moving forward at the southern location, by contrast, makes sense: here, Henry would exchange his advantageous position for a disadvantageous one by moving slightly downward into the Morival, where the French reasonably charged down upon them. At what point the French lines took the bait and moved forward, at what point the forces met, is a matter that could be potentially informed by archaeological surveys of the still-unsurveyed areas on the south side of the fields. Looking at the standard translations of our primary sources, however, hints that at least one edge of the English advance reached all the way to Azincourt itself before the 64

65 66

It may be that this has some connection to the location of the “barn and house belonging to the priory of Saint-George of Hesdin” that Monstrelet reports as burned by a contingent of English scouts on the morning of the battle. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, pp. 157–58. Ibid., p. 158. Ibid., p. 158.



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fighting commenced. Tito Livio Frulovisi reports this of the English advance: “When within twenty paces of the town of Agincourt they came to the French enemy, with a most sounding of trumpets, they all roused their souls to the fight, they fell upon the enemy and the battle commenced. The English battle line was as wide as the field.”67 Pseudo-Elmham, using Frulovisi, gives the same: “When they had approached towards the enemy’s ranks, to the distance of twenty paces, not far from Agincourt,” the battle began.68 This evidence would no doubt be an important argument against any attempt to shift the battle of Agincourt away from its Vulgata reconstruction: assuming that “Agincourt” here refers more or less to the known location of the castle of Azincourt, and that his “pace” is something akin to Roman paces – twenty of them being just over 32 yards – then Frulovisi provides eminently geo-locatable data and fits the tradition interpretation for the fight very well. We saw earlier the importance of looking at the “raw” data with Crécy, when Knighton’s Chronicle was changed to provide a reading that would support existing assumptions about the battle’s location. Something similar might be at work here, since Frulovisi’s Latin could be read differently from the standard translation: “Et cum ad viginti passus ad oppidum Agincourt ad Gallos hostes devenissent, cum tubicinum clangor maximus ad praelium omnium animos excitat, occurrunt hostes, initur praelium.” In a literal translation, this appears to read: “And when they had gone about twenty paces towards the town of Agincourt, towards the French host, a great blast of trumpets urges them all to battle. They come together. The battle is begun.” In other words, Frulovisi might not be telling us that Henry’s army advanced to a point twenty paces from Azincourt, but that they advanced twenty paces towards Azincourt. This is no small difference. Instead of being an objection to changing the Vulgata account, it could be one more reason to do so. What the fight looked like from this point will require further engagement with the sources that there is no time and space here to do, though it seems likely that if the French lines spread all the way across the English front, then we could have a fight that saw French dying both down in the Morival (on the English left) and up on the plateau (on the English right); this would nicely fit our alternative English position shown on Figure 8.6.69 At least one additional toponym on the cadastral maps may be of interest. La Fosse a Rogne is today a sunken area below a tree-mounted protuberance at the base of the Morival. It is precisely in line with where we would surmise the English men-at-arms would have welcomed the French assault. Its name

67 68 69

Ibid., p. 61. Ibid., p. 72. Interestingly, an 1827 map of the battle shows something much like this, with French forces both east and west of Azincourt. See Histoire des ducs de Bourgogne de la maison de Valois, 1364–1477, vol. 14: Atlas des ducs de Bourgogne, ed. Amable Guillaume Prosper Brugière de Barante (Paris, 1838), n.p.

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translates to either “pit of rage” or “pit of rotting,” and in any case it seems a reasonable location for a mass burial. That there was such a mass burial on the field is indicated by many of our sources. The Religieux of Saint-Denis observes that Henry “agreed that the bishop of Thérouanne should bless the unhallowed place so that it might serve as cemetery.”70 More specificity is given by Monstrelet, who writes that the main body of the dead – 5,800 men – were buried in a “square measured out of 25 feet in which were made three ditches as wide as two men,” after the ground was blessed by the bishop of Guines at the command of the bishop of Thérouanne.71 Something of this description must be in error, however. Just to make our math simple, if the men were all a mere five feet tall, only five would fit head-to-toe in a 25-foot ditch.72 If there were indeed three such ditches holding two men abreast, then each “layer” would contain thirty corpses, and the 5,800 men would need to be stacked 193 deep. If the average body in these stacks was 8 inches thick when laid to rest,73 then the three 25-foot ditches would need to be roughly 129 feet deep each. This cannot be. If the three ditches were 250 feet long instead – a common enough scribal error – then 5,800 bodies would need only be stacked nineteen deep. As it happens, the Fosse a Rogne is roughly 250 feet long, though its dimensions would allow as many as a dozen burial ditches instead of just three, which would considerably decrease the depth needed to hold so many corpses. In any case, the Fosse a Rogne also fits our expectation of the most convenient gathering point for the corpses given its location at the bottom of the Morival where so many would have fallen. The battle of Agincourt was hardly static, of course. As the French forces began to flee at the end, the English could have surged after them in the pursuit. Because Men Flow Like Water – by which I mean that they tend to take what they perceive to be the easiest route from one given objective to another – we can guess that from the initial contact points the disintegrating battle would have probably ranged largely northward, pressing across the fields of Azincourt to the hills of Saint-George and then up main road towards Ruisseauville. This pursuit of men in flight would give us a reasonable scenario for Monstrelet’s report that as the battle wound down Henry “asked the name of the castle which he could see close by. They answered that it was called Agincourt,”74 and he named the battle for it. A southern-focused battle would have Henry and his men-at-arms driving towards the castle at Azincourt in their pursuit, whereas the traditional site would instead have them making their pursuit away from it: the Vulgata has

70 71 72

73 74

Ibid., p. 109. Ibid., p. 170. This is surely too short. For comparison, the mean height of shoeless male personnel in the United States Army in 1966, was just over 68 inches. See White and Churchill, The Body Size of Soldiers, p. 73. The mean chest depth of unclothed male personnel in the United States Army in 1966 was just over 9 inches. See White and Churchill, The Body Size of Soldiers, p. 109. Curry, Agincourt: Sources and Interpretations, p. 164.



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the English lining up at the literal feet of the fortification and leaving it behind as the rout began. Burials would inevitably have occurred elsewhere on the field, far from the Morival. The Chronique de Ruisseauville describes just such an expected after-effect: “Louis de Luxembourg, bishop of Thérouanne, blessed the ground and the place where the battles had been, accompanied by the abbot of Blangy and made five graves, and in each grave were buried 1,200 men or more at his costs and expenses, and on each grave was placed a great cross of wood.”75 These might be approximated at the side of the hills of Saint-George just west of Azincourt, along the road to Calais, where we find the place-name Les Croisettes [The Crosses].76 As it happens, this would be the very spot where Guillaume de l’Isle’s 1704 map places the battle (Figure 8.7). Step 10: Start Digging At the beginning of this essay, I observed that a battle site ought to leave behind a great many artifacts, and that one of the many reasons to distrust the traditional sites of both Crécy and Agincourt is that no verified remains have been found at either location. Finding nothing is simply a problem. Conflict archaeology is, and always will be, the final arbiter of conflict analysis. We cannot argue against artifacts that have been properly uncovered and identified. At the moment, no archaeological survey has been undertaken at the alternative site suggested by Sutherland and supported here. I can only hope that this will change sooner rather than later. Either we will have at last found one of the greatest battles in history or, if the results are negative, we will return to the drawing board – back to Step 1 of this methodology – to begin the investigation anew with yet one more piece of data at hand. Both prospects would be exciting. Our ultimate aim in history, after all, is not to be right, but to get it right.

75 76

Ibid., p. 127. We should be wary of making too much of the coincidence of this place-name, however: the same toponym occurs along a valley hillside just north-west of Tilly-Capelle – a little east of the spot where the two armies had first spotted each other on the previous day, where no part of the engagement appears to fit.

Contributors

Stephen Donnachie received his PhD in medieval history from Swansea University in 2014 and is currently an editor for the Royal Studies Journal based at Winchester University. His research focuses on the political and social history of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Cyprus in the thirteenth century. Shimon Gibson is currently Professor of Practice in History & Archaeology in the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has directed many archaeological projects in Israel/Palestine over the past forty years, and is the author of many peer-reviewed papers and books. During the past two decades Gibson has been a project director in charge of the Mount Zion archaeological project. Michael John Harbinson is a retired general medical practitioner. He took a degree in English Language and Literature at Worcester College Oxford before studying medicine at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School London. He has a lifelong interest in medieval military history and has contributed previously to The Journal of Medieval Military History, receiving De Re Militari’s Gillingham Prize in 2020. His interests lie particularly in the use of horsemen in the Hundred Years’ War and later fifteenth century. Donald J. Kagay is an Adjunct Professor of History at the University of Dallas. He spent twenty-three years as a professor of history at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia. Dr. Kagay has published four dozen articles and sixteen books, including Elionor of Sicily 1325–1375: A Mediterranean Queen of Two Worlds. Rafael Y. Lewis specializes in Landscape and Conflict Archaeology and in the material evidence of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. With a PhD from the University of Haifa, Lewis is currently a Senior Lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a Research Fellow at the Zinman Institute in the University of Haifa. Lewis has participated in many surveys and excavations in Israel, notably conducting the study of the Hattin battlefield project, and his recent publications deal with Crusader-period encampments, thirteenth-century sword pommels, and medieval finds from Beth She’arim and Ascalon‫‏‬.‫ ‏‬He is also a co-director of the Mount Zion archaeological project.

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Michael Livingston is a two-time winner of the Distinguished Book Prize from the Society for Military History, for Medieval Wafare: A Reader and The Battle of Crécy: A Casebook, both co-edited with Kelly DeVries. He teaches at The Citadel, where he was recently named to the position of Distinguished Professor. Laurence W. Marvin is Professor of History at Berry College in Mt Berry, Georgia, USA. He is the author of The Occitan War: A Military and Political History of the Albigensian Crusade, 1209–1218. Among other publications, his articles have appeared in The Journal of Military History, War in History, and War & Society. Nicholas Morton is an Associate Professor of History at Nottingham Trent University, specializing in the history of the medieval Near East and the crusading movement. He has written or edited many books and articles on these subjects including: The Crusader States and their Neighbours: A Military History, 1099–1187 and Encountering Islam on the First Crusade. His most recent publication is The Mongol Storm: Making and Breaking Empires in the Medieval Near East. Guilhem Pépin has written extensively about the military history of the Hundred Years’ War, with a focus on Guienne, including a study of the French invasion of 1404–07 in JMMH 9. His more recent publications include an edited volume, Anglo-Gascon Aquitaine. Problems and Perspectives.

Journal of Medieval Military History 1477-545X Details of previous volumes are available on our website.

Volume XII 1 Some Observations Regarding Barbarian Military Demography: Geiseric’s Census of 429 and Its Implications – Bernard S. Bachrach 2 War Words and Battle Spears: The kesja and kesjulag in Old Norse Literature – K. James McMullen 3 The Political and Military Agency of Ecclesiastical Leaders in Anglo-Norman England: 1066–1154 – Craig M. Nakashian 4 Couched Lance and Mounted Shock Combat in the East: The Georgian Experience – Mamuka Tsurtsumia 5 The Battle of Arsur: A Short-Lived Victory – Michael Ehrlich 6 Prelude to Kephissos (1311): An Analysis of the Battle of Apros (1305) – Nikolaos S. Kanellopoulos and Ioanna K. Lekea 7 Horse Restoration (Restaurum Equorum) in the Army of Henry of Grosmont, 1345: A Benefit of Military Service in the Hundred Years’ War – Nicholas A. Gribit 8 The Indenture between Edward III and the Black Prince for the Prince’s Expedition to Gascony, 10 July 1355 – Mollie M. Madden 9 Investigating the Socio-Economic Origins of English Archers in the Second Half of the Fourteenth Century – Gary Baker 10 War and the Great Schism: Military Factors Determining Allegiances in Iberia – L. J. Andrew Villalon

Volume XIII 1 Feudalism, Romanticism, and Source Criticism: Writing the Military History of Salian Germany – David S. Bachrach 2 When the Lamb Attacked the Lion: A Danish Attack on England in 1138? – Thomas K. Heebøll-Holm 3 Development of Prefabricated Artillery during the Crusades – Michael S. Fulton 4 Some Notes on Ayyūbid and Mamluk Military Terms – Rabei G. Khamisy 5 Helgastaðir, 1220: A Battle of No Significance? – Oren Falk 6 Por la guarda de la mar: Castile and the Struggle for the Sea in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries – Nicolás Agrait 7 The Battle of Hyddgen, 1401: Owain Glyndŵr’s Victory Reconsidered – Michael Livingston

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8 The Provision of Artillery for the 1428 Expedition to France – Dan Spencer 9 1471: The Year of Three Battles and English Gunpowder Artillery – Devin Fields 10 “Cardinal Sins” and “Cardinal Virtues” of “El Tercer Rey,” Pedro González de Mendoza: The Many Faces of a Warrior Churchman in Late Medieval Europe – L. J. Andrew Villalon 11 Late Medieval Divergences: Comparative Perspectives on Early Gunpowder Warfare in Europe and China – Tonio Andrade

Volume XIV 1 Anglo-Norman Artillery in Narrative Histories, from the Reign of William I to the Minority of Henry III – Michael S. Fulton 2 Imperial Policy and Military Practice in the Plantagenet Dominions, c.1337–c.1453 – David Green 3 The Parliament of the Crown of Aragon as Military Financier in the War of the Two Pedros – Donald J. Kagay 4 Chasing the Chimera in Spain: Edmund of Langley in Iberia, 1381/82 – Douglas Biggs 5 Note: A Medieval City under Threat Turns Its Coat, While Hedging Its Bets – Burgos Faces an Invasion in Spring 1366 – L. J. Andrew Villalon 6 Medieval European Mercenaries in North Africa: The Value of Difference – Michael Lower 7 Medieval Irregular Warfare, c.1000–1300 – John France 8 Muslim Responses to Western Intervention: A Comparative Study of the Crusades and Post-2003 Iraq – Alex Mallett 9 “New Wars” and Medieval Warfare: Some Terminological Considerations – Jochen G. Schenk 10 Friend or Foe? The Catalan Company as Proxy Actors in the Aegean and Asia Minor Vacuum – Mike Carr

Volume XV 1 Later Roman Grand Strategy: The Fortification of the urbes of Gaul – Bernard S. Bachrach 2 In Search of Equilibrium: Byzantium and the Northern Barbarians, 400–800 – Leif Inge Ree Petersen 3 Evolving English Strategies during the Viking Wars – Richard Abels 4 Norman Conquests: A Strategy for World Domination? – Matthew Bennett 5 The Papacy and the Political Consolidation of the Catalan Counties, c.1060–1100: A Case Study in Political Strategy – Luis García-Guijarro Ramos 6 Alfonso VII of León-Castile in Face of the Reformulation of Power in Al-Andalus (1145-–57): An Essay on Strategic Logic – Manuel Rojas Gabriel



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7 The Treaties between the Kings of León and the Almohads within the Leonese Expansion Strategy (1157–1230) – Maria Dolores García Oliva 8 A Strategy of Total War? Henry of Livonia and the Conquest of Estonia (1208–27) – John Gillingham 9 The English Long Bow, War and Administration – John France

Volume XVI 1 In the Field with Charlemagne, 791 – Carl Hammer 2 The Recruitment of Freemen into the Carolingian Army, or How Far May One Argue from Silence? – Walter Goffart 3 Baybars’ Strategy of War against the Franks – Rabei G. Khamisy 4 Food, Famine and Edward II’s Military Failures – Ilana Krug 5 The Impacts of Warfare on Woodland Exploitation in Late Medieval Normandy (1364–80): Royal Forests as Military Assets during the Hundred Years’ War – Danny Lake-Giguère 6 Exercises in Arms: the Physical and Mental Combat Training of Men-at-Arms in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries – Pierre Gaite 7 The Skirmish: A Statistical Analysis of Minor Combats during the Hundred Years’ War: 1337–1453 – Ronald W. Braasch 8 Yron & Stele: Chivalric Ethos, Martial Pedagogy, Equipment, and Combat Technique in the Early-Fourteenth-Century Middle English Version of Guy of Warwick – Brian R. Price 9 Reframing the Conversation on Medieval Military Strategy – John Hosler

Volume XVII 1 Baktash the Forgotten: The Battle of Tell Bashir (1108) and the Saljuq Civil Wars – Drew Bolinger 2 The External Fortifications of Atlit Castle, the Only Unconquered Crusader Stronghold in the Holy Land – Ehud Galili and Avraham Ronen 3 Holy Warriors, Worldly War: Military Religious Orders and Secular Conflict – Helen J. Nicholson 4 Elionor of Sicily: A Mediterranean Queen’s Two Lives of Family, Administration, Diplomacy, and War – Donald J. Kagay 5 Wives, Mistresses, Lovers, and Daughters: The Fortunes of War for Royal Women in Late-Fourteenth-Century Castile. OR: A Gender Limitation on Writing History from Chronicles – L. J. Andrew Villalon 6 The Lance in the Fifteenth Century: How French Cavalry Overcame the English Defensive System in the Latter Part of the Hundred Years’ War – Michael Harbinson 7 Supplying the Army, 1498: The Florentine Campaign in the Pisan Countryside – Fabrizio Ansani

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8 Fencing, Martial Sport, and Urban Culture in Early Modern Germany: The Case of Strasbourg – Ken Mondschein and Oliver Dupuis 9 Note: An Army on the March and in Camp – Guillaume Guiart’s Branche de royans lingnages – Michael Livingston

Volume XVIII 1 The Eastern Campaigns of King Henry II of Germany, 1003–17 – David S. Bachrach 2 Peace, Popular Empowerment, and the First Crusade – Jason MacLeod 3 The Transformation of Naval Warfare in Scandinavia during the Twelfth Century – Beñat Elortza Larrea 4 Auxiliary Peoples and Military Reform on Hungary’s Western Frontier in the Thirteenth Century – Sarolta Tatár 5 What Types of Sources Did Medieval Chroniclers Use to Narrate Battles? (England and France, Twelfth to Fifteenth Centuries) – Pierre Courroux 6 Experimental Tests of Arrows against Mail and Padding – David Jones 7 Four Misunderstood Gunpowder Recipes of the Fourteenth Century – Clifford J. Rogers 8 The Earliest Middle English Recipes for Gunpowder – Trevor Russell Smith 9 Horses and Horsemen in Fifteenth-Century Siege Warfare, with Particular Reference to the Later Hundred Years’ War – Michael John Harbinson 10 Supplying the Army: The Siege of Pisa, 1499 – Fabrizio Ansani

Volume XIX 1 The Battle of Firāḍ: The Day on Which Khālid b. al-Walīd Did [Not] Defeat Both Byzantines and Persians – Konstantinos Takirtakoglou 2 A Mislocated Battlefield? Battle Flats: The Battle of Stamford Bridge, 1066 – Michael C. Blundell 3 The Frankish Campaign of 1133–34 in Northern Syria and the Battle of Qinnasrīn – Evgeniy A. Gurinov 4 Bella plus quam civilia? The Place of Battle in the Context of Civil War under the Anglo-Norman and Angevin Kings, c.1100–c.1217 – Matthew Strickland 5 Edward I’s War on the Continent, 1297–98: A New Appraisal – David Pilling 6 The Earliest European Recipes for “Powder for Guns” (1336 and 1338–c.1350) – Clifford J. Rogers and Fabrizio Ansani 7 Bellicose Rhetoric: The Memorable War Speeches of One Aragonese Royal Couple – Donald J. Kagay 8 Coureurs and Their Role in Late Medieval Warfare – Michael J. Harbinson



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Volume XX 1 De velitatione bellica and the Georgian Art of War During the Reign of David IV – Mamuka Tsurtsumia 2 The Afterlife of the Medieval Christian Warrior – Steven Isaac 3 More Accurate Than You Think: Re-evaluating Medieval Warfare in Film – Peter Burkholder 4 Raising the Medieval Trebuchet: Assembly Method and the Standing of a Half-scale Machine – Daniel Bertrand 5 Cum Socio Eiusdem: Military Recruitment in the Armies of Edward I Among the Sub-Gentry – David S. Bachrach 6 Two Walls of Protection: Queen Elionor of Sicily and Bishop Berenguer de Cruïlles of Gerona During the 1359 Naval Campaigns of The War of the Two Pedros – Donald J. Kagay 7 The Lancegay and Associated Weapons – Michael John Harbinson 8 “I intend to give him battle.” Battle-Seeking in a Civil War Context: Toro (1476) – Ekaitz Etxeberria Gallastegi 9 Discovery of an Early Sixteenth-Century Battle Plan from the Archdiocesan Archive in Ljubljana – Tomaž Lazar