Local war references?

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Local war references?

Post  Gideon13 on Tue May 25, 2010 12:03 pm

Good Gentles,

Most the books I've found describing military events, such as Froissart, discuss the War at the large end of the scale: the armies and deeds of great kings and high lords. Most of the rest tell of wandering adventurers.

But I am trying to better understand things from the perspective of the single knight on the Continent, one with a manor (not a castle) to care for. For example, how do you protect home and loved ones against random raiders, especially when you have to spend time away from home performing your duties to your liege?

Are there any reference books, or even well-written/researched historical fiction, that at least in part look at the War from this perspective?

Thank you very much.

-- Gideon ha-Khazar

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Re: Local war references?

Post  Adhemar on Sun May 30, 2010 9:46 pm

As to references, not any that I am aware of, sadly. Historical reference below the level of cities being sacked is limited. Which may of course indicate that it didn't really happen very often, attackers being more interested in cities because of the concentration of plunderable wealth, or it may indicate a woeful lack of resources.

That said, I offer a few points to consider:

First off, ‘Single knight’ is a somewhat deceptive term. While you may indeed be a single knight, you are almost never, in the period, a single *person*. If you possess a manor, even if it’s only a fortified manor and not a castle, you have people to help you defend it. You can’t think of a ‘manor’ the way we think of a ‘house’. A manor is a working farm, and production center, and really a corporate unit. Many people make manor work. Add to that the fact that even a small manor has some sort of village, if not villages, attached to it, and you begin to realize that even as a ‘single’ knight, you are not alone. Really, that’s one of the hardest points to get for the modern mind. Almost nobody lived in the kind of privacy and isolation that we in the modern age think of as common.

So, given that, you would go off to fight with the king (or baron, or count, or whatever) and leave a relative or a trusted servant home to mind the manor, and you’d take with you the men required for your retinue, and leave the rest to guard the house and lands. Also bear in mind that military service of that sort was generally of a limited duration, so in general you weren’t away from home for all that long.

One must also remember that during the period in question, there were only random raiders for certain points in time. It was kind of binary. The brigand companies, especially the Great Companies of the 1360-65 period, were made up of the released men from the armies, who couldn’t afford, or didn’t want to go home again. If there was a state of war they rejoined the army and became legitimate soldiers. Thus, if there were brigand companies, there was *not* a state of war, and thus you’d be home to defend your lands in person. Whether you could do so in the face of one of the Great Companies descending on you or not is another matter, of course…

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Re: Local war references?

Post  Gideon13 on Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:20 am

You raise an interesting point -- that back then one was not a single person, but far more deeply part of a community. I had simply assumed that one had to defend one's family alone. It really was a different way of living from the modern way, and you're making me wonder if in addition to the old individual values such as honor or love of craftsmanship, that is worth emulating (at least in part) as well.

You've given me much to think about, well beyond my original question. Thank you, Adhemar.

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Re: Local war references?

Post  Adhemar on Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:32 pm

Well, I certainly think it is. Very Happy Its what I try to do with my household. In the very least it adds to the impression of a nobleman that I'm trying to make, and helps with the work involved.

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And in respect to my personal honour, through the mercy of God, it is without reproach, as I have always acted like a loyal and honest man, as well toward my God as to my king and his realm: whoever has acted, or may act otherwise, though he hold the universe in his hand, is worthless, and undeserving of respect.

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