Medieval Armies and Weapons in Western Europe

An Illustrated History


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About the Book

The Middle Ages are commonly divided into three periods—early, high or central, and late. Each period was marked by its own crises and wars, and the weapons and fighters reflected the technological and other advancements being made. This book is a richly illustrated history of warfare in Western Europe during those years. Part One, the early Middle Ages, covers the late Romans, the Germanic invaders and Byzantines, the Franks, the Vikings and Hungarians, and the Anglo-Saxons and Normans in England. Part Two, the high or central Middle Ages, considers the feudal system, knights and chivalry, knights at war, infantrymen, land warfare, siege and naval warfare, crusades in Palestine, templars and hospitalers, the Reconquista in Spain, and the Teutonic knights. Part Three, the late Middle Ages, discusses the evolution of new types of armor and weapons, the Hundred Years’ War, mercenaries, and firearms.

About the Author(s)

Historian, writer and illustrator Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage is the author of numerous books. His interests include World War II and medieval and French history. He lives in Groningen, Netherlands.

Bibliographic Details

Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage

Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 288
Bibliographic Info: 269 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [2005]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7734-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-6251-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments iv
Introduction 1


1. Late Romans, Germanic Invaders, and Byzantines
The End of the Western Roman Empire 5
The Late Roman Imperial Army 7
The Huns 11
The Germanic Invasions 12
The Byzantine Empire 14
2. The Franks
The Merovingians 18
Islam 22
The Carolingians 24
3. Vikings and Hungarians
The Vikings 30
The Hungarians 37
4. Anglo-Saxons and Normans in England
Anglo-Saxon Conquest 39
Alfred and Knut 44
Norman Conquest 45
Norman England 46
The Norman Army 48
5. Feudal Lords
Origin of Feudalism 55
Heredity of Fiefs 56
Feudal Obligations 57
Peace and Truce of God 59
Castellany 59
Principalities 61
6. Knights and Chivalry
Origins of Knighthood 63
Training of Candidate Knights 64
Adubment 67
Chivalry 68
Tournaments and Jousts 70
Heraldry 75
7. Knight’s War Equipment
Offensive Weapons 81
Defensive Equipment 87
Speed and Mobility: The Horse 94
8. Infantrymen
Infantry 100
Pole Weapons 102
Long-Range Weapons 109
Manufacture of Weapons 116
9. Land Warfare
Number of Fighting Forces 119
Various Forms of War 119
Pitched Battle 120
Ransom 125
Dead, Wounded, and Invalids 126
Writings about Medieval Warfare 127
10. Siege and Naval Warfare
Siege Warfare 129
Naval Warfare 143
11. Crusaders in Palestine
Church and Violence 151
The First Crusade 152
The Kingdom of Outremer 153
Saladin’s Reconquest 154
The Third and Fourth Crusades 154
The Last Crusades 155
The Opposing Armies 156
Other Minor Crusades 164
12. Templars and Hospitalers
Military Religious Orders 166
Templars 167
The Hospitalers 175
Other Minor Military Orders 178
Secular Orders of Chivalry 180
13. Reconquista in Spain
The Arab Occupation of Spain 181
The Reconquista 181
Weapons and Tactics 183
The Iberian Military Orders 186
The End of the Reconquista 191
14. The Teutonic Knights
Creation and Structure 193
Brethren of the Sword and Dobrzyn 194
Apogee and Decline of the Teutonic Order 196
Weapons and Tactics 199
Teutonics and Nazism 200
15. Evolution of Armor and Weapons 205
Mixed Armor, 1250–1410 205
Full-Plate Armor, 1410–1600 210
Evolution of Armor after 1500 216
16. The Hundred Years’ War (1340–1453)
Causes 219
Opposing Forces 221
First Part of the War, 1337–1388 224
Second Part of the War, 1415–1453 226
Aftermath 228
17. European Mercenaries
Decay of Feudalism 230
Urban Militia 232
Italian Condottieri 234
Hussites 236
Swiss Infantry 238
German Landsknechten 241
Spanish Tercios 246
18. Firearms
Gunpowder 248
Early Artillery Pieces 249
Cannons and Handguns 251
Influence of Firearms on Siege Warfare 258
Influence of Firearms on Fortifications 262
Naval Warfare with Firearms 265
Evolution of the Cavalry 266
19. Conclusion 270
Bibliography 277
Index 279

Book Reviews & Awards

“LePage’s drawings and sketches prove to be invaluable”—Mediaevistik.