Medieval Battles, 1047 to 1295

When I began writing the Battles of Wales in earnest I soon realised that its scope would have to spread!  This single book has now become at least five volumes.  The first book in the series now commences with a general account of medieval warfare and finishes with eleven twelfth and thirteenth century campaigns which emphasise the importance of logistics in warfare.  These works consist of personal translations of original documents and monuments and is intended to give a first hand account of warefare in the Middle Ages.

The following is a reproduction of part of pages 20-21 from the first volume.

    If Edward I (1272-1307) was always ready to fight to get his way, his great-grandfather, Henry II (1154-89), was always loath to go to war.  He is said to have lamented terribly over the loss of men in battle whom he hardly considered at all when they were alive.  He appears to have been well aware of the consequences of battle and like many monarchs simply preferred to avoid the uncertain arbitration of warfare.  His discussion with the cleric, Giraldus Cambrensis, is illustrative of this reluctance and his understanding of reality.  After the fall of Jerusalem Giraldus urged the king to join the Crusade.  The king replied,

    "These clerks can summon us boldly to arms and dangers since they themselves will not suffer a blow in battle nor will they undertake any burdens they can avoid".

    King Henry, like other strong kings, had a deep feeling for his charges, the population of his territories.  He disliked war because of the damage it caused to his people, but if necessary he waged it with a vengeance.  If Henry disliked violence his own people and their descendants sometimes appear the opposite.  Roger Leybourne deliberately killed Arnulf Munteny, a household knight, at a tournament in 1252 simply because Arnulf had in an earlier melee unseated him and broken his leg.  A few years later in the tournament of 4 June 1256 at Blyth the going got so rough that William Longspey died soon afterwards, while Earl Roger Bigod, Earl Roger Quincy of Winchester, Alan Watsand and John Lexington never fully recovered as they had ‘exerted themselves beyond their strength to such a degree that their muscles were torn and they never afterwards recovered their health'.  Such then was the fun of the aristocracy.

In reality the first book, which is now published, please click on the following link, Medieval Battles, 1047 to 1295, is no more than an introduction to the battles themselves which appear in the subsequent volumes. To whet the appetite the first half of the first book consists of the following chapter headings:

The Sources
The Mentality of Soldiering in the Middle Ages
Description of Cavalry, Crossbowmen, Archers and Foot
The Accoutrements of Armour
Changing Fashion
Cavalry, Knights and Serjeants
Knightly Effigies
Archers and Foot
Siege Engines and Engineers
Tactics and Pay
Raising Troops
Naval Transport
Movement, Speed and Distance

Eleven campaigns are then considered:

The March to Corwen, 1165
The French Campaign of Richard I
The Ceri Campaign of 1228
The Painscastle Campaign of 1231
The Wars of Prince Dafydd, 1240 to 1246
Degannwy, 26 August to 26 October 1245
The Perfeddwlad Campaign of 1257
Cefnllys, December 1262
The Welsh Campaign of 1276 to 1277
The Welsh War of 1282 to 1283
The Welsh War of 1287
A List of Early Effigies containing Heraldry    326
The Cost of Troops from the Twelfth to the Fourteenth Centuries    329
In total there are 398 pages of A4 text and illustrations showing the evolution of battle armies and the nature of battle between 1050 and 1300.  

To whet the appetite a short extract without footnotes is reproduced below:

Changing Fashion

When not in combat knights had a reputation to keep and this can be seen to some degree by their mode of dress.  Today we would call this fashion and as at all times some people were avant-garde and others outmoded.  Thus fashion was never exclusive and often several different themes can be seen running together at once.
    At the time of the Norman conquest most French knights were clean shaven with their hair shaved at the back and sides and cut into a bowl shape on top (Fig.14).  Facing them the English thegns tended to be long haired and bearded as were the Welsh, Irish and Scots.  During the reign of William Rufus (1087-1100) the Normans adopted the English fashion of long hair and beards and flashy clothing, much to the disgust of various clerics (Fig.4). 

    A debauched associate called Robert was the first in Rufus' court to introduce the practice of filling the long points of shoes with tow to turn them up like a ram's horn....  They parted their hair from the crown of the head on each side of their forehead and let their locks grow long like women and they wore long shirts and tunics closely tied.  Further they wasted their time spending it according to their own fancy without regard to the law of God or the customs of their fathers.  Night was devoted to banqueting and drunkenness, to silly talk, dice, tables and other games.  Thus the simple habits of our fathers were abandoned in almost all the west of Europe.  They had used a modest dress, well fitted to the proportions of their bodies, which was convenient for riding and walking, and for all active employments as common sense dictated.  But in our days ancient customs were almost all turned over for new fashions.  Our wanton youths are sunk in effeminacy, and the courtiers study to make themselves agreeable to the women by every sort of lasciviousness.  They insert their toes and other extremities of their bodies in things like serpent's tails which look like scorpions.  Sweeping the dusty ground with their prodigious trains of robes and mantles; they cover their hands with gloves too long and wide for doing anything useful and encumbered with these superfluities, lose the free use of their limbs for active employment.  The forehead is bare after the manner of thieves, while on the back they nurture long hair like harlots.  Before penitents, captives and pilgrims usually went unshaven and wore long beards as an outward mark of their penance or captivity or pilgrimage.  Now almost all wear crisped hair and beards, carrying on their faces the tokens of their filthy lust like stinking goats.  Their locks are curled with hot irons and, instead of wearing caps they bind their heads with fillets.  A knight seldom appears in public with his head uncovered, and properly shaved according to the apostolic precept.  Their exterior appearance and dress thus exhibit what are their inward thoughts, and how little reverence they have for God.

One of the conditions of Archbishop Anselm returning to England early in the reign of King Henry I (1100-35) was that he was allowed to crop the hair of Henry's effeminate knights!  Not surprisingly this led to a short-term resurgence in the old clean shaven fashion.  However after the death of Anselm in 1109 the long haired and bearded fashion returned.
    At the battle of Bourtheroulde in 1124 it was noted that a good method to tell knights from sergeants or esquires was that only the knights were allowed to wear flowing locks.  Indeed Oderic tells us that William Lovel escaped the rout by shearing his hair and pretending to be a valueless squire!  By the thirteenth century knights were still more showy and their funeral effigies show that there was mixture of moustaches and clean shaven upper lips, but the state of the chin is often difficult to determine as this part of the body is mostly portrayed under armour.  It would seem that clean shaven was most likely.  By the fourteenth century full flowing beards were back in fashion, although again this was not compulsory.  At all times expensive brooches and gold and silver rings were worn as signs of wealth.

Medieval Battles Volume 1 is now through PayPal for £29.95.  Consists of 398 A4 pages and 147 illustrations and maps.

The second book in the series is now entitled Welsh Battles, 1055 to 1295 and covers the 69 battles mentioned in historical sources between those dates.  The piece I wrote several years ago for this book still stands.

Since I began studying history I realised that no true account of the many battles of the Welsh has ever been published. The nearest to a full list of actions occurs in J.E. Lloyd's seminal work of 1911, but even here many entries are brief as such a monumental history of Wales would demand. Two years ago I decided to undertake a full study of all the Welsh battles in the period between 1055 and 1295. The choice of dates was really simple. It begins with the arrival of Norman knights in Wales and ends with the defeat of the last Welsh army at the end of the turbulent thirteenth century. The battles of Owain Glyndwr belong to another period entirely when chain mail had given way to plate armour.

The book now consists of a series of chapters covering the sixty-nine battles with full descriptions with plans and photographs where available. These battles are listed below. It is hoped that such a work will fill a much needed gap in historical research and lead to a greater discussion and understanding of our military heritage.

** Glasbury, 16 June 1057 **
** Mechain, 1069 **
*** Rhymni, 1072 ***
** Dyffryn Glyncul, 1075 **
** Bron-yr-erw, 1075 **
** Camddwr, 1075 **
** Gweunytwl, 1077 **
** Pwllgwdig, 1078 **
*** Mynydd Carn, 1081 ***
** Llech-y-crau, 1090 **
** St Dogmaels, 1091 **
** Brecon, Between 17 and 23 April 1093 **
** Coedysbys, 1094 **
** Celli Tarfawg/Carnant and Aber Llech 1096 **
*** Aberlleiniog, Anglesey, May 1098 ***
** Aberystwyth, Early March 1116 **
* Ystrad Rwnws, Between May and September 1116 *
*** Maes Maen Cymro, 1118 ***
*** Wadiece, 1132 ***
** Lougher, 1 January 1136 **
** Cedweli, March 1136 **
*** Cardigan, 10 October 1136 ***
** Central Wales, 1145 **
** Coleshill, 1150 **
** Castell Hywel, 1153 **
** Tal Moelfre, May 1157 **
** Hawarden, August 1157 **
** Llanidloes, 1162 **
** Rhos y Gad near Pentraeth, 1170 **
* 'Baldert’ Bridge, 1170 *
* Elfael, 22 September 1179
* Dingestow, 1182 *
** Aber Conway, Porthaethwy and Coedaneu, 1194 **
*** Radnor, 1196 ***
*** Painscastle, 13 August 1198 ***
** Aberduhonw, Summer 1208 **
** Builth Wells, June/July 1210 **
* Cilcennin, About 30 November 1210 *
*** Llandeilo, 30 January 1213 ***
** Carmarthen Bridge, 29 August 1220 **
** Carmarthen, 26 April 1223 **
** Montgomery, May/June 1231 **
** Hay-on-Wye, July 1231 **
* Carmarthen, 1 August 1233 *
* Grosmont, 17 November 1233 *
** Monmouth, 25 November 1233 **
** Monmouth, 26 December 1233 **
*** Carmarthen, End of March 1234 ***
* Baglan, 3 or 5 February 1245 *
** Montgomery, Late February 1245 **
** Bryn Derwyn, between 24 June and 25 September 1255 **
** Berriew, Mid to Late January 1257 **
** Gwernesgof, End of May (Trinity) 1257 **
*** Cymerau, 2 June 1257 ***
* Dyfed, Monday after Easter [24 March] 1258
** Carmarthen Bridge, Mid April 1258 **
** Cilgerran, 4 or 7 September 1258 **
*** Abergavenny, 3 March 1263 ***
** Abermule, March/April 1263 **
** Brecon, 15 May 1266 **
** Glamorgan, after 13 March 1267 **
*** Llandeilo, 17 June 1282 ***
** Meol y Don, 11 November 1282 **
*** Builth Wells, 12 December 1282 ***
* Denbigh, 11 November 1294 *
*** Maes Moydog, 5 March 1295 ***

Volume 2 is now available.  However due ot the amount of detail amassed for these battles it has proved necessary to devided the volume into two parts.  Part 1 is now published.

Medieval Battles, Volume 2, part i, 1055 to 1216

Volume 2 part ii is due to be published within the next few years as there is still much more research to be done!

The third volume is entitled English Battles, 1055 to 1266 and contains the following actions.


*** Hereford, 24 October 1055 ***
*** Stanford Bridge, 25 September 1066 ***
*** Hastings, 22 October 1066 ***
* Blaydon on Tyne, 1069 *
** Stafford, 1070 **
*** The Standard, 22 August 1138 ***
*** Lincoln, 2 February 1141 ***
** Wich, 3 September 1146 **
*** Fornham, 22 September 1173 ***
** Alnwick, 1174 **
*** Lincoln May 1217 ***
** Thames Esturary, 24 August 1217 **
** Shrewsbury, 15 January 1234 **
** Clun, 28 April 1263 **
* Rochester, April 1264 *
*** Lewes 14 May 1264 ***
*** Evesham, 4 August 1265 ***
* Chesterfield, 15 May 1266 *


The fourth volume will be entitled Norman Battles, 1047 to 1214 and contain the chapters:

Val es Dunes, 1047
Arques, 1053
Mortemer, 1054
Varaville, 1057
Cassel, February 1071
Gerberoi, 1079
Tinchebrai, 1106
Alencon, 1118
Bremule, 1119
Bourtheroulde, 1124
Saint Leufroi near Evreux, 3 October 1136
Chaumont-sur-Loire, 1160
Chaumont-sur-Epte, After Apr 1167
Verneuil, 9 Aug 1173
Mirabeau, 1202
Bouvines, 20 July 1214

A final book is intended to deal with Scottish and Irish battles during this period.

For clarity these are marked as actions on a specific scale. Skirmishes or routs are marked with a star (*), battles with two stars (**), major battles with three (***) and campaigns with an X.

Since the publishing the list below I have been asked which battles are already covered in my series of booklets on castles. Links have now been established from the list below to my booklet pages and these pages have been amended to include reference to the various battles.

Paul Martin Remfry

Copyright©1994-2011 Paul Martin Remfry

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