The Sophistication Of Medieval Warfare By Terence Wise

1705 Words7 Pages
A putrid odor permeates through the crowded village as scrawny children shriek in tears of hunger. Rats scamper along the filthy, dirt road covered in bloody corpses. Ferocious barbarians continually invade villages causing calamity and chaos among the townspeople. Subsequently, the economy is in a state of immense turmoil as trade declines and trade routes diminish. Innovation and prosperity are at a standstill because the population can barely survive. While many may believe that the Dark Ages is defined by these deplorable conditions, this is merely a common misconception. Rather than a time period of animosity and strife, the Middle Ages were truly a time of innovation and advancement not only in industry but also in warfare. The…show more content…
The misconception he discusses regards the sophistication of medieval armies. Today’s society considers armies of the Middle Ages to be incompetent, disorganized, and inexperienced. According to Medieval Warfare by Terence Wise, “It is a popular conception that medieval armies were unskilled, undisciplined mobs, led by men with no knowledge of tactics, and that battles were little more than free-for-alls in which the strongest individuals survived” (Wise, 104). He ends the paragraph by stating that, “in the light of recent studies, this is a misconception” (Wise, 105). Accounts of medieval battles show that leaders exploited their environment by using natural obstacles and held a force in reserve. In fact, military leaders took up defensive positions on high ground shielded by a natural barrier. This evidence indicates that medieval warfare was not merely a chaotic melee as many believe. Due to these tactics, it is assumed that many commanders read military manuscripts of the Romans. Both authors clearly indicate the misconception of the Middle Ages as an era of ignorance and…show more content…
Gimpel’s book describes the interest of man in sources of energy. Medievalists desired harnessing energy to evolve and enhance society. Villard de Honnecourt designed a perpetual-motion machine which was intended to be used for practical purposes. While this device is physically impossible to construct, it displays the desire of medievalists in enhancing society. According to The Medieval Machine by Jean Gimpel, “They (medievalists) were power-conscious to the point of fantasy, always looking for sources of power beyond hydraulic, wind and tidal energy” (Gimpel, 127). Similarly, in medieval warfare, military leaders’ desire to win battles caused them to continually develop new weapons. For example, the English crossbow was a dominant weapon in medieval times, but the Swiss developed a better weapon called the pike. The ambition of the Swiss in the development of the pike caused them to become the finest infantry of the Middle Ages. As stated in Medieval Warfare by Terence West, “The Swiss pike columns were fast, maneuverable and struck with almost the shock of heavy cavalry” (Wise, 125-126). In both cases, medievalists had a compelling desire to enhance society either economically or
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