Grappling with the Nature of Medieval War - A Round Table Discussion

Some of the leading historians of medieval warfare took part in roundtable discussion at the 2017 International Medieval Congress, held at the University of Leeds. Grappling with the Nature of Medieval War: Sources, Continuities, and Organisation brought together John France (Swansea University), Bernard Bachrach (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities), David Bachrach (University of New Hampshire), Kelly DeVries (Loyola University, Maryland), and Ryan Lavelle (University of Winchester). Bernard and David Bachrach had just launched their new book Warfare in Medieval Europe c. 400-1453, and this discussion involved many of the topics raised in their work, as well as questions from the audience.

Here are some video highlights from the roundtable:

How can studying medieval warfare help the study of modern military history?

David S. Bachrach, discusses how studying medieval warfare helps our understanding of modern military history. Highlighting concepts that have existed in warfare for centuries – such as morale, strategic thinking, tactics and mobilisation – they are represented to be as important in the medieval era as they are in modern military history. This fundamental way of thinking about warfare isn’t new, but existed across the medieval era, whilst adapting to changes over time.

What are the practicalities and problems in studying medieval warfare?

Ryan Lavelle highlights some of the opportunities facing medieval historians in studying medieval warfare today. Developments in the area have allowed historians to open up the ‘dark age’ of the medieval period, and the impact on warfare. By thinking about the practicalities of warfare at the time and looking at terrain modelling, the topography of Europe, and strategic thinking, this period is becoming more accessible and understood.

How do we write about medieval military history?

Is this an exciting time to be doing medieval history? David S. Bachrach, explores some of the developments in writing medieval military history – from delving into archaeology and administrative documents to examine how warfare impacted on everybody in medieval society. Writing about medieval warfare today has expanded the focus of who participated in war, bringing it to the centre of our understanding of this period of history.

Why did people fight? Lessons from Warfare in Medieval Europe

Kelly Devries and Ryan Lavelle discuss what motivated men to partake in war, during the medieval period.

What do we know of the medieval experience?

How can we understand what soldiers experienced on the medieval battlefield? David S. Bachrach, discusses some of the research – and avenues for further understanding – that provided insight whilst writing ‘Warfare in Medieval Europe’.

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