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Conflict through time and the UK

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The Middle Ages

Warfare on land

  • When William the Conqueror invaded England, he brought with him two innovations [innovation: A new idea or way to do something. - mounted knights and the castle. These were an important part of warfare for most of the Middle Ages:

    • William's knights were protected by knee-length shirts of chain mail called 'hauberks'. After the 14th century, rich knights wore suits of armour made of hinged plates.

    • The first Norman castles in England had an earth mound, called the 'motte' with a wooden keep on top, and a large courtyard, called the 'bailey'. Later, huge stone square keeps were built. The gateway was protected by a strong building called the barbican.

  • Cavalry and castles were still important in the time of the Crusades. The Crusaders learned new cavalry tactics with lightly armoured, more mobile cavalry from the Muslims. Muslim influence can also be seen in the style of castle-building. Concentric castles, made up of a series of rings of walls and towers, were a much better design.

  • Warfare changed as time went on:

    • After the reign of Edward I, lightly-armoured, fast-moving horsemen called hobelars were increasingly used. They could mount surprise attacks, or chase and catch guerrilla forces.

    • English longbowmen destroyed the French cavalry at the Battles of Crécy (1346), Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415).

    • Castles became more vulnerable after the development of cannon, called 'pots-de-fer' from the 1340s.

Warfare at sea

  • There were naval battles in the Middle Ages, but ships fought simply by pulling up alongside each other, and then having a battle between the crews on deck.

The place of peace

  • In the Middle Ages, kings would make treaties to end fighting, but often broke them. Two examples of treaties during the Hundred Years' War were:

    • Treaty of Brétigny (1360): King John the Good of France was captured by the English at the Battle of Poitiers. The treaty gave Edward III huge amounts of land in France and a ransom of 3 million gold crowns. A few years after King John's death (1364), his son renounced the treaty and the war started again.

    • Treaty of Troyes (1420): after the French defeat at the Battle of Agincourt, Charles VI of France married his daughter to Henry V of England. This should have ended the war because their son would have been king of both England and France. Under the terms of the treaty Henry or his heir would succeed to the throne of France on Charles VI's death as the Dauphin had been disinherited. Both Henry and Charles died in 1422, and the French kept fighting.

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