Their balmy slumbers waked with strife
December 5, 2009 10:41 AM   Subscribe

The Soldier in later Medieval England is a historical research project that seeks to 'challenge assumptions about the emergence of professional soldiery between 1369 and 1453'. They've compiled impressive databases of tens of thousands of service records. These are perhaps of interest only to specialists; but the general reader may enjoy the profiles of individual military men: these run the gamut from regional non-entities like John Fort esquire of Llanstephan ("in many ways a humdrum figure" though once accused of harbouring a hostile Spaniard!) to more familiar figures such as rebel Welsh prince Owain Glynd┼Ár, who began his soldiering, as did many compatriots, in the service of the English king. Between such extremes of high and low we find, for example, Reginald Cobham, who made 6,500 florins ransoming a prisoner taken at Poitiers and rests eternal in a splendid tomb; and various men loyal and rebel who fought at the bloody Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403.
posted by Abiezer (15 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
No one in Guilder knows what we've done, and no one in Florin could have gotten here so fast.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:53 AM on December 5, 2009 [5 favorites]

This is fantastic. I wish the database offered a simple download, though - confronting casual visitors with a search box is not a good way to make clear the breadth and depth of your data.
posted by migurski at 11:08 AM on December 5, 2009

Posts like this make me wish I were still in grad school. What a fabulous resource. Thanks for posting it.
posted by immlass at 11:14 AM on December 5, 2009

I was interested in what exactly the 'letters of protection' that are collected in one of the databases were; I didn't know what it meant then or that it's a term still in legal use. At the time it was apparently a document protecting the holder from prosecution whilst serving overseas; presumably stop some sly neighbour getting your manor by legal chicanery while you were away on the king's business and unable to contest things in person.
posted by Abiezer at 11:27 AM on December 5, 2009

Isn't it awful of me to see this piece of academic research, and think "oooh, this would be good for genealogy"?
posted by Sova at 11:38 AM on December 5, 2009

Was actually thinking on re-reading my post text that my 'perhaps of interest only to specialists' is rubbish for precisely that reason, Sova.
posted by Abiezer at 11:43 AM on December 5, 2009

Isn't it awful of me to see this piece of academic research, and think "oooh, this would be good for genealogy"?

On the contrary, in the UK academic system that would help with the impact scores for their research output and may even qualify on the wider benefit to industry side of things which our Science Ministry types are very keen on at the moment.
posted by biffa at 12:03 PM on December 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Wonderful post, and timely for me. I'm in the middle of reading Froissart's Chronicles, which is a work of journalism that covers the Hundred Years War from 1322 to 1400. I'm fascinated by the parallels that this work has with Barbara Tuchman's classic A Distant Mirror.

I'll be using this resource as an online appendix to many of the names and battles that Froissart references. Thanks!
posted by In The Annex at 12:12 PM on December 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

omg this is such an awesome post and once my hangover is better I'm going to spend some hours chewing my way through this stuff!!!
posted by supermedusa at 1:32 PM on December 5, 2009

posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:21 PM on December 5, 2009

Excellent post, thanks.
posted by languagehat at 8:40 AM on December 6, 2009

One thing I think people forget is how many lives have been lived int he past. This is a excellent resource! Thanks for posting it!
posted by rebent at 10:37 AM on December 6, 2009

It's a great way in to thinking about those lives rebent; I enjoyed the insight into the kind of concerns some minor gentry figure from the sticks or the wild borders might have - advancement, prestige, getting and holding land, a good marriage and so on. The article on Sir William Clifford is great because he seems to have had the knack of rebelling then surrendering at just the right moment - 'Throughout his career, Clifford was skilled at bending with the political wind; and even when he did defy the king, he proved adept at judging exactly how far to go. His acts of rebellion were fairly passive, confined to refusing to surrender castles, or handing out livery badges, and he managed to avoid being caught in arms against the king in the open field.' He manages to sail through the stormy years of civil strife and die a man of wealth and office.
posted by Abiezer at 1:26 PM on December 6, 2009

De Re Militari is a good resource for medieval military history if you're looking for further articles and whilst printed considerably later, George Silver's Paradoxes of Defence is worth reading. I'd recommend anything about Sir John Hawkwood otherwise - a very interesting character.
posted by longbaugh at 3:13 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Interesting. Thank you.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:46 PM on December 7, 2009

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