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4.0 out of 5 stars "Mercenaries have never had a good press" - An interesting collection of essays on the subject, 12 Sep 2013
By 
Mr. Mice Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mercenaries and Paid Men: The Mercenary Identity in the Middle Ages (History of Warfare) (Hardcover)
Mercenaries and Paid Men: The Mercenary Identity in the Middle Ages, ed. John France, Brill, 2008, 415pp

This is an interesting and readable collection of essays on the subject of `The Mercenary Identity in the Middle Ages', which were presented at a conference held at the University of Wales, Swansea, in 2005. It is volume #47 in the series History of Warfare from the publishers, Brill of Leiden.

As with any collection, readers will find a number of items of greater and lesser interest, depending on their own areas of study.

From the end of the Editor's Introduction:
"What this conference served to show was the complexity of the military profession in Medieval Europe. The exigencies of a limited agricultural economy prohibited the creation of regular armies. Short-term armies were made up of many different kinds of people enjoying complicated relationships with their commanders. We may talk of the army of this king or that, but most soldiers probably saw themselves as being the men of a whole host of lesser captains and lords. The greater army was a composite of retinues and hirelings, and though the overall commander's money held the whole thing together like a cement, it was less a monolith than a network of complicated relationships. In these circumstances we might do well to regard mercenary as a term of art, a paradigm to which some approximated more than others, but which, in itself, had little contemporary reality."

The Contents are -
P001: Introduction - John France
P015: William Marshal and the Mercenariat - David Crouch
P033: Revisiting Mercenaries under Henry Fitz Empress, 1167-1188 - John D. Hosier
P043: Medieval Mercenaries: Methodology, Definitions, and Problems - Kelly DeVries
P061: Les Mercenaires dans les Campagnes Napolitaines de Louis le Grand, Roi de Hongrie, 1347-1350 - Guido Guerri dell'Oro
P089: The Da Varano Lords of Camerino as Condottiere Princes - John E Law
P105: `Beneath the Battle'? Miners and Engineers as `Mercenaries' in the Holy Land (XII-XIII siecles) - Nicholas Prouteau
P119: Soldiers of Fortune in the Fleets of Charles I of Anjou, King of Sicily, ca. 1265-85 - John H. Pryor
P145: Household Men, Mercenaries and Vikings in Anglo-Saxon England - Richard Abela
P167: Merovingian Mercenaries and Paid Soldiers in Imperial Perspective - Bernard S Bachrach
P193: The Early Hungarians as Mercenaries 860-955 - Charles R Bowlus
P207: `Warriors Fit for a Prince': Welsh Troops in Angevin Service, 1154-1216 - LW Rowlands
P231: Urban Military Forces of England and Germany c.1240-c.1315, a Comparison - David S Bachrach
P243: Mercenaries, Mamluks and Militia: Towards a Cross-cultural Typology of Military Service - Stephen Morillo
P261: The Anglo-Flemish Treaties and Flemish Soldiers in England 1101-1163 - Eljas Oksanen
P275: The Origin of Money-Fiefs in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem - Alan V Murray
P287: Mercenaries and Paid Men in Gilbert of Mons - Laura Napran
P301: The Fourteenth Century Soldier - More Chaucer's Knight or Medieval Career? - Adrian R Bell
P317: What does a Mercenary Leave Behind? The Archaeological Evidence for the Estates of Owain Lawgoch - Spencer Gavin Smith
P331: The Role of Mercenary Troops in Spain in the Fourteenth Century: the Civil War - Carlos Andres Gonzalez Paz
P345: The Teutonic Order's Mercenaries during the `Great War' with Poland-Lithuania (1409-11) - Sven Ekdahl
P363: Scots Mercenary Forces in Sixteenth Century Ireland - Muriosa Prendergast
P383: The Irish Mercenary Tradition in the 1600s - Ciaran Og O'Reilly
P395: Index

INTRODUCTION - John France
"Mercenaries have never had a good press"
This is both an introduction to the medieval mercenary and to the authors and their essays, introducing them into his introductory narrative at the appropriate place -

"After the conquest of England in 1066, a penance for killing was imposed on the entire Norman army, but it was markedly more severe for those who served William for pay than for those who were his subjects serving from obligation to their ruler. This distinction between duty and the desire for gain may strike us as highly artificial. Virtually all men who fought hoped to gain, and in this case the greater men who were subjects of William stood to gain far more than those who hired themselves for pay. However, this distinction was a very important one in medieval thinking and still forms the basis of modern perceptions of who was a mercenary and who was not."
"One aspect of the poor press which mercenaries have received is that they are seen as the most brutal and degraded of soldiers. Cruelty, in particular is often seen as their defining characteristic. In 1179 the Third Lateran Council condemned mercenaries and all who employed them, calling even for a crusade against these destroyers of churches who killed the poor and the innocent without any distinction of sex or status. But this was hardly a special quality of mercenaries. The nobles and knights of medieval Europe tended to justify their privileged position in terms of their sense of social responsibility, and, in particular, the duty to defend the weak and helpless. By the end of the twelfth century, Davis Crouch (15-32) suggests, this was a central plank of the newly emerging exclusiveness of the aristocrats to whom the knights were being assimilated."

WILLIAM MARSHAL AND THE MERCENARIAT - David Crouch
"The `History of William Marshal', which records his life, and many of its hero's opinions, is a marvellous window on the Angevin court in the later years of the twelfth century... the `History' is not just an invaluable - if occasionally unreliable - source for the history of early Angevin England and Normandy, it is also a very reliable guide to the attitudes of the upper end of the aristocracy of the late twelfth century."
"Not surprisingly therefore the `History' has a lot to say about mercenaries, not surprising, because the subject of the mercenary and mercenary violence is one that is very much evident in other sources for the late twelfth century. Taken all in all, we can say that William Marshal and the men of his circle were not in their day particular fans of mercenaries, and they especially did not like their captains. What I want to deal with here is what was the precise nature of the Marshal's distaste for the routier, and particularly the routier captain."

REVISITING MERCENARIES UNDER HENRY FITZ EMPRESS, 1167-1188 - John D. Hosier
"The late Thomas Keefe once remarked that the most-cited medieval individual for sheer dependence upon mercenaries or `stipendiarii' is King Henry II of England (1154-1189)."
[Discussion of claim]
"Numbers and troop ratios aside, equally important is an analysis of how and why Henry used mercenaries on campaign. We are fortunate to have a contemporary remark on this question, found in Richard fitz Nigel's `Dialogue of the Exchequer': `the prince prefers to expose mercenaries, rather than natives to the fortunes of war'. This paternalistic view found ready acceptance in the work of Hans Delbruk and has subsequently survived several decades of historical inquiry. While accepting that Henry sought to protect his vassals, we might also examine the Dialogue's passage in a qualitative manner. Underneath Richard's statement lays a twofold implication. First, the consideration of mortality implies that Henry foresaw combat (e.g. battle, skirmish, or siege) for his army. Second, given that combat was likely, Henry apparently considered his mercenaries worthy substitutes for the native soldiers. Of course, one could argue that neither applies because Henry was either foolish enough to deploy inferior troops or nonchalant about human casualties, but both of these notions are absurd. The king's overriding concern throughout his reign was the effective defence and maintenance of the vast Angevin Empire through his various military exploits. Therefore, we must assume that Henry felt comfortable employing hired soldiers for potentially dangerous military campaigns, even during times of great peril to his realms. We may push the matter further by dispensing with headcounts for a moment... and instead examine how Henry employed his mercenary resources on campaign."

MEDIEVAL MERCENARIES: METHODOLOGY, DEFINITIONS, AND PROBLEMS - Kelly DeVries
"Why throughout history certain individuals were chosen, or most often recruited, to become a soldier, and why they should want to fight for someone whom most had never met or knew little about is among the most difficult questions facing military historians of any period."

"...But recruitment and fighting motivation remain two areas of medieval warfare that have been largely unexamined, or at least insufficiently examined."

"The words `paid' and `foreign' are thus the principle characteristics of the traditional definition of the medieval mercenary. And of course, these characteristics also fit the archetypical medieval mercenary, John Hawkwood, the renowned English condotierre and leader of condotierre in fourteenth-century Italy... But how well do they define the more common medieval mercenary, the one who does not stand out like a John Hawkwood? Indeed, I suggest that it is precisely in the words `paid' and `foreign' where the definition of a medieval mercenary fails to meet the needs of a medieval military historian, that this is a modern definition and that in using it we create further difficulty in trying to define the larger, more general issues of recruitment and motivation for fighting."

LES MERCENAIRES DANS LES CAMPAGNES NAPOLITAINES DE LOUIS LE GRAND, ROI DE HONGRIE, 1347-1350 - Guido Guerri dell'Oro
The Editor: "The collapse of the Empire in the thirteenth century, and the severe problems in such successor-states as Naples, here discussed by Guido Guerri dell'Oro (61-68) [in French], created the same kind of political fragmentation which could be exploited by mercenary leaders... to their own advantage... It is worth noting, however, that only a minority of such predators were foreign, and that it was the complex and bitter rivalries of small Italian states which provided mercenaries with their opportunities."

THE DA VARANO LORDS OF CAMERINO AS CONDOTTIERE PRINCES - John E Law
"...It is now generally agreed that even in the later fourteenth century, when the presence of foreign - non-Italian - mercenary soldiers in the Peninsula and their political and military influence was at its height, the majority of mercenaries were in fact Italian."

`BENEATH THE BATTLE'? MINERS AND ENGINEERS AS `MERCENARIES' IN THE HOLY LAND (XII-XIII SIECLES) - Nicholas Prouteau
"As Arnold of Lubeck observed, each society watched his opponent's particular features and sometimes tried to borrow some innovative techniques and experts able to reproduce them. Though prisoners of war were numerous on building and demolition sites, the mercenary phenomenon gained in importance as the lack of experts confronted princes and sultans with new problems. The importance of fortification in the crusading context and the high frequency of siege assaults provided a fertile ground for the genesis of a new social class."

SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE IN THE FLEETS OF CHARLES I OF ANJOU, KING OF SICILY, ca. 1265-85 - John H. Pryor
The Editor: "John Prior... here traces the careers of soldiers of fortune in the naval service of Charles of Anjou."

HOUSEHOLD MEN, MERCENARIES AND VIKINGS IN ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND - Richard Abela
"Mercenary soldiers played a crucial role in both the birth and death of Anglo-Saxon England. What is odd, however, is how little evidence there is for their presence in Britain between the end of the fifth century and the turn of the millennium. What makes this even stranger is that there is considerable evidence for soldiers who fought for wages throughout the period."

MEROVINGIAN MERCENARIES AND PAID SOLDIERS IN IMPERIAL PERSPECTIVE - Bernard S Bachrach
The Editor: "Bernard Bachrach... contends that in Roman and Merovingian times `there were groups of fighting men, perhaps we may call them companies, as well as individual fighting men, who were free to offer their services for hire and who were contracted to perform military duties for various types of remuneration'."

THE EARLY HUNGARIANS AS MERCENARIES 860-955 - Charles R Bowlus
The Editor: "Charles Bowlus... characterises the Magyars as mercenaries, who entered the service of various German factions, most notably in 954 when they served the rebels against Otto I, his son Liudolf of Swabia and son-in-law Conrad of Franconia, in the campaign which ultimately led to Otto's great victory at the Lech in 955"

`WARRIORS FIT FOR A PRINCE': WELSH TROOPS IN ANGEVIN SERVICE, 1154-1216 - LW Rowlands
"This paper then will treat of the evidence for the deployment, recruitment, and organisation of troops from Wales by Henry II, Richard I and John before, in a manner suitably modest for a non-specialist on these occasions, reflecting upon the contribution such a survey might make to the apparently still contentious issue of mercenary identity."

URBAN MILITARY FORCES OF ENGLAND AND GERMANY C.1240-C.1315, A COMPARISON - David S Bachrach
"The burden of this paper is to highlight the essential features of urban military forces in England and Germany with the intention drawing some comparisons and contrasts. These two kingdoms, of course, were organized on very different political and constitutional foundations, which has substantial influence on the organization of urban fighting forces."

MERCENARIES, MAMLUKS AND MILITIA: TOWARDS A CROSS-CULTURAL TYPOLOGY OF MILITARY SERVICE - Stephen Morillo
"...I am unaware of any successful attempt to create a typology of military service that could distinguish along a consistent and limited set of variables and in a cross-culturally valid way, between the varieties of paid (and unpaid) military service. This is what I will attempt in this article."

THE ANGLO-FLEMISH TREATIES AND FLEMISH SOLDIERS IN ENGLAND 1101-1163 - Eljas Oksanen
"My focus will be on the interplay between the wider context of the experiences of itinerant Flemings, and the series of diplomatic treaties that were concluded between the kings of England and the Counts of Flanders over the course of the twelfth century."

"That the Anglo-Flemish treaties were concluded over and over again during the twelfth century nevertheless demonstrates the keen interest that rulers on both sides of the Channel had in regulating and encouraging the flow of armed men."

THE ORIGIN OF MONEY-FIEFS IN THE LATIN KINGDOM OF JERUSALEM - Alan V Murray
"In its distribution the money-fief was limited to those parts of Western Christendom that had an economy in which trade and industry were more important than agriculture. A recent study of the money-fief in Flanders has argued that it was a military institution, whose `primary goal was to attract foreigners who would serve the prince on the battlefield'.

"The aim of the remainder of this discussion is to examine the circumstances in which this institution was introduced to Frankish Palestine."

MERCENARIES AND PAID MEN IN GILBERT OF MONS - Laura Napran
"This paper examines a specific situation of mercenaries and paid men in a particular late-twelfth-century chronicle, `Chronicon Hanoniense' (Chronicle of Hainault) by Gilbert of Mons. Gilbert of Mons was a cleric who served, among other offices, as chancellor for Count Baldwin V of Hainault, who governed the county from 1171 to 1195."

THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY SOLDIER - MORE CHAUCER'S KNIGHT OR MEDIEVAL CAREER? - Adrian R Bell
"The question I have asked today is fraught with problems, not least the difficulty of separating out `crusader' from `mercenary'. Nevertheless, I intend to provide some thoughts about what soldiers would get up to as part of a `normal' career. In more detail, are the careers of Chaucer's Knight and a `normal' soldier mutually exclusive or are there identifiable intersection points suggesting that a `normal' career would pick up on highlights from Chaucer's knight. If those points of comparison do exist, then how prevalent are they and can we make any assumptions as a result?"

WHAT DOES A MERCENARY LEAVE BEHIND? THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR THE ESTATES OF OWAIN LAWGOCH - Spencer Gavin Smith
"...Equally important, however, for the study of the personality of the medieval mercenary is the question of what does a mercenary leave behind when he is employed to fight abroad; what archaeological evidence can be recovered relating to his estates and property, and what can they tell us about why he would chose the life of a mercenary."

THE ROLE OF MERCENARY TROOPS IN SPAIN IN THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY: THE CIVIL WAR - Carlos Andres Gonzalez Paz
"The civil wart that the legitimate monarch. Pedro I of Castile (1350-69), faced against his half-brother, Count Enrique of Trastamara, was a military event of extraordinary importance in the history of medieval Spain."

"The fourteenth-century Spanish Civil War cannot be understood without the analysis of the role that the English (and Welsh) or French mercenaries troops played in this armed confrontation. Those mercenary troops, supporting both Pedro I of Castile and his stepbrother Enrique of Trastamara, introduced into the Iberian Peninsula a new way of waging war, which was rather different from the old standards of the chivalry."

THE TEUTONIC ORDER'S MERCENARIES DURING THE `GREAT WAR' WITH POLAND-LITHUANIA (1409-11) - Sven Ekdahl
The Editor: "Sven Ekdahl has explored another dimension of the mercenary experience in the later Middle Ages, their use by the Teutonic Order during the `Great War' with Poland-Lithuania, 1409-11, whose best known event was the battle of Tannenberg on n15 July 1410. As well as being interesting in itself, a passage in his article throws up the very question - is there a pure mercenary? During the battle of Tannenberg, Luppold von Kockritz, a knight from Meissen, died attempting to kill the Polish king. He was a close friend of the Grand Master of the Teutonic order, Ulrich von Jungingen, In a letter, Luppold recorded that many aristocratic friends would fight the Lithuanians, who were perceived as pagans, on behalf of the Order, but would demand payment in the case of war against the Christian Poles. This raises the issue of identity again, for it suggests that those who fought for money could also be motivated by ideological consideration."

SCOTS MERCENARY FORCES IN SIXTEENTH CENTURY IRELAND - Muriosa Prendergast
"'Mercenary' in the Irish sense is very different indeed when compared to the type of `paid man' that one encounters elsewhere in Europe.. Particularly in Ireland, the dynamic between local lords and their `paid men' played a role in both the military and political life of Medieval Ireland, from the thirteenth through to the sixteenth century, during which time one can observe the evolution of the mercenary from gallowglass to redshank."

THE IRISH MERCENARY TRADITION IN THE 1600S - Ciaran Og O'Reilly
"The Irish mercenary tradition in the seventeenth century can reasonably be described as singularly unique. Whilst other peoples, such as the Scots and the Swiss, were recognised for their mercenary activity, what characterises the Irish experience is the breadth and extent of their involvement: put simply, the Irish were to be found at this period serving in greater numbers, under more varied colours, than any other national group. This paper is intended to explain the background to, and nature of, this mercenary tradition."

FURTHER READING
Henry II: A Medieval Soldier at War, 1147-1189 (History of Warfare)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb collection of studies on medival mercenaries, 13 Mar 2013
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mercenaries and Paid Men: The Mercenary Identity in the Middle Ages (History of Warfare) (Hardcover)
This book is a collection of 21 studies on "Mercenaries and Paid Men" during the middle Ages, with an introduction from John France, the author of a superb book on medieval warfare, among other publications.

The purpose of this book, which is derived from the proceedings of a conference held at the University of Wales (Swansea) in July 2005, is to examine "the Mercenary Identity in the Middles Ages". It is also to determine what it meant to be a mercenary and to what extent and how mercenaries could be defined. To achieve this, the numerous articles put together in this volume attempt to "tackle" the issue through numerous angles, considering soldiers of fortune from Merovingian armies right up to the 16th and early 17th century mercenaries in Ireland.

Among others, the book includes articles on the mercenaries at the time of Henry II "Fitz Empress" and an assessment (by David Crouch) to determine whether William Marshal qualifies as a mercenary or not. There is also an interesting article by Richard Abels distinguishing between household men, mercenaries and Vikings in Anglo-Saxon England and others on mercenaries in Spain during the 14th century and serving with the Teutonic Order during the early 15th century, plus another one on de Da Varano family as condottiere princes.

Two sets of articles stand out, showing to what extent the participants of this conference thoroughly investigated the topic. The first set includes "special" troops and covers engineers and miners in the Holy Land and soldiers of fortune in the fleets of Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily. The second set includes articles seeking to determine whether the Early Hungarians in the 9th century were mercenaries (Charles Bowlus) and whether it is possible to come up with a cross-cultural typology of mercenaries that would allow the Mamluks to fit in (Stephen Morillo).

Finally, there are also a couple of fascinating articles on the origin of money-fiefs in the Kingdom of Jerusalem and whether their holders would qualify also as mercenaries, and on then Anglo-Flemish Treaties where the latter agreed in advance to supply significant numbers of mounted warriors on demand, provided the Kings of England would pay for them.

To avoid spoiling it for those who may be tempted to buy this worthwhile book, I will refrain from mentioning which types of soldiers qualified as mercenaries and which did not, according to the authors. Suffice to say that the concept of mercenary across the whole period remained a rather elusive one, partly because the warrior ethos of the nobility implied that it was somewhat unflattering to fight primarily for money, as opposed to fighting "for a cause" or serving under the banners of their liege lords.

This is a superb collection of studies which is well worth five stars, assuming you focus on its contents only (and do not think too much about its price).
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