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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
Joined: 20 Jul 2008

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Posts: 118

PostPosted: Sun 25 Jul, 2010 10:28 pm    Post subject: Cultural and historical questions?         Reply with quote

Hello:

I was wondering if a list of medieval and rennaisance battles and campaigns exists. Except for famous battles like Agincourt and Towton, I do not know what other battles occured, nor do I know their chronology. Only in recent years have I heard about other battles like Pavia and Vienna mostly because of the Osprey series of books. However, it's all a jumble in my mind. What battles occured in countries like Poland or Romania? What were all the battles of the Italian wars? What were the economic and/or political contexts of these battles and wars. What was the big deal about the Landesknechts and Swiss?

I am also wondering if a "chronological list" exists of medieval and rennaisance monarchs & ruling families. Did Emperor Maximillian and Henry VIII live during the same period? Who was allied with whom? Did any true friendships exist between any monarchs, or were relationships purely political? Who were these Hapsburgs I keep hearing about? Who were the Germanic and Italian equals to kings like Henry VIII and Spain's Philip.

I was also wondering if any literature exists that conveys an accurate sense of medieval life & culture, customs, and geography. I know what we now call Germany and Italy were once independent city states, duchies, or provinces. There was a region in Austria called Styria I think. I'd like to know how people lived back then. How did they grow and keep food? How did one become a knight? How were armies raised? How were armies supplied? What were causes for war back then? What motivated a knight or peasant to join an army and fight in gruesome medieval combat. How frequent were wars? Did merit count for anything? At what age did combat training begin? During peace, what was a typical day like for a knight or peasant. I assume life was very difficult no matter what was happening. I can't imagine there was much liesure time like today.

I simply wonder how difficult or dangerous it would be to visit the medieval world. Let's pretend a modern German could visit medieval Germany if you could travel back in time. Even if one knew how to use a longsword, it would be such a different and (I assune) more dangerous world. Germanic clothes, customs, geography, jobs, language, and politics were different. There were no Autobahns. No Lufthansa, and worse - no Porsches! Perhaps even spoken accents were different too.

I sense it was a much more martial world than ours today with a more stringent social caste system. Perhaps not as extreme as feudal Japan, but still very tough - even during rare periods of peace.

Just wondering.

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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Mihai Ionita




Location: Romania
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Mon 26 Jul, 2010 3:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, Dustin you sure don't compromise on threads. You know that for all the questions asked in this single thread, you could have made, perhaps, six or seven separate threads regarding the individual questions. Anyway, I agree with information centralization so I'll try and help with what little knowledge I possess.

First of all, the closest thing you can find to a list of battles is a book called "Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: A Guide to 8 500 battles from Antiquity through the Twenty First Century" in three volumes. It lists a load of battles alphabetically based on several factors (a battle needs to be cross-referenced twice in period sources for it to count as a battle, among other things, the book details the selection process in the foreword).

As for what battles occurred in Poland and Romania, I can tell you that most of the conflicts were mainly with problematic neighbours. The conflict between the Poles and the Teutonic Order is already famous but the Poles also fought with their Romanian neighbours from the South-East (from Moldavia), with the raiding Tartars (Mongols) and, of course, many impetuous Polish knights travelled abroad to showcase their prowess (one of them, Zawisza Czarny if I'm not mistaken, went as far abroad as Spain to face its best knight, a certain Don Pedro of Aragon or Castile).

Romanian conflicts were mainly with...well, everyone at one point or another. The two Romanian principalities extant in the Middle Ages (Wallachia and Moldavia) fought with the Hungarians, with the Poles, with the Ottomans, with the Tartars, with the Serbs, with the Bulgarians and with any nomadic horde that happened to pass by. Eastern Europe was fraught with bloodshed, much like Western Europe.

I can't tell you all the battles of the Italian Wars but I can tell you that they occurred in the context of already-existing conflicts between the Italian city-states. I believe Venice was being heavily picked-on by Milan so they called France for aid. France rolled in, under the leadership of King Charles VIII and they started tearing the opposition down. Soon enough, a coalition was formed to fight France and soon enough it was defeated, but its presence in Italy had already been established. The Spanish soon got involved, the Germans too, all based on the principle of foreign intervention. In this time-period the Papacy also started getting involved in faction-politics, with outstanding successes in the reigns of some particularly industrious popes.

As for Maximilian and Henry VIII, yes they did live in the same time-period. Henry was somewhat younger, however. And everyone was allied with everyone, it didn't really matter. Allegiances and alliances changed based on political opportunity and the weather (if one were to judge the relationship between France and England, for example, one could reach this very conclusion seeing as the two powers were allies in one moment, enemies in the other). The Hapsburgs were the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and Spain, with Charles V being the Emperor of both and the most powerful man in Europe. He was a bit younger than Henry VIII and he was also Henry's nephew (since Henry was married to his aunt, Katherine of Aragon). There weren't really any Germanic or Italian equals to Henry VIII and Spain's Philip save the petty dukes and princes present in both realms.

There is a load of literature that describes life in the Middle Ages, from what they ate to how they led their lives. I can recommend an easy-to-read book that will get you in the "zone" so to say and prepare you for more...academic works, so to say. It's called "A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages" by Martyn Whittock. You will find the answers to most, if not all of your questions about Medieval life in that book, and books like it that choose to specialize in a certain area.

I'd answer the other questions in a more detailed manner but I really lack the time to do so now. I will, however, return and answer later. In the meanwhile, I hope our fellow forumites will answer any other questions you have posed (or will pose).
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 656

PostPosted: Mon 26 Jul, 2010 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow Dustin!


You really need to "zero in" on what you want to learn about and/or study. There are some wonderfully knowledgeable people here who know an awful lot about an awful lot and who are generous with sharing their knowledge but you're practically asking for a course in the history of western civilization!

So pick an area or an era and do some research on your own and then you'll be able to ask more specific questions that people will be able to address.

Ken
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Mihai Ionita




Location: Romania
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2010 4:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm back with some more answers to your questions.

The big deal about the Landsknechts and the Swiss was pretty much the following: the Swiss, living in those mountains of theirs, were a rather insular bunch of people. Whenever they weren't working their fields or doing whatever they did to earn a living, they weren't doing what normal people did (i.e. getting drunk and whoring about). The Swiss, being weird and all, practiced drill. Heavy-duty military drill with polearms designed for shearing people off their horses and for hacking apart any soul unfortunate enough to stand in their way.

Because they drilled so damn much, most of the young Swiss men became professional soldiers (I would imagine swinging a halberd becomes more fun than swinging a scythe after some time) and hired themselves out as mercenaries. The rest of Europe (mainly the French) quickly recognized the worth and skill of the Swiss soldiery, so they started hiring them as mercenaries.

Hiring them in batches, the Swiss were able to form their own exclusively Swiss formations in French armies, and that soon got them noticed by just about everyone from the Italians to the Spaniards. The discipline of the Swiss soldiers along with their ability to work together so well (seeing as they all drilled together, it comes naturally) led to the eventual appearance of the Landsknechts. They were mainly German mercenaries who fought in the same style as the Swiss. You could say they were the cheaper version of the Swiss, and one went to them when one didn't have the funds to hire the Swiss proper.

At least that's my understanding of the whole situation. Any other forum member is free to challenge my assertion (I would actually welcome it gladly, for any chance to learn new things is much appreciated). I hope it helps.
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Thomas R.




Location: Germany
Joined: 10 May 2010
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Reading list: 17 books

Posts: 395

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2010 4:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mihai Ionita wrote:
I'm back with some more answers to your questions.

The big deal about the Landsknechts and the Swiss was pretty much the following: the Swiss, living in those mountains of theirs, were a rather insular bunch of people. Whenever they weren't working their fields or doing whatever they did to earn a living, they weren't doing what normal people did (i.e. getting drunk and whoring about). The Swiss, being weird and all, practiced drill. Heavy-duty military drill with polearms designed for shearing people off their horses and for hacking apart any soul unfortunate enough to stand in their way.


Ahm... the swiss didn't do that because they were a strange or weird backward people. No, they did it to secure their freedom and rights - they were in fact very advanced because they tried to stay independent and in a very modern way democratic. Since 1291 they were struggling with the House of Habsburg to keep their lands and rights. Their solution was to form batches of cheap pikemen and hellebardiers - mainly to haul the enemy's knights and horsemen off their horses... they were called "Reissläufer" and inspired many german youngsters to do it likewise and form later on the famous "Landsknechte".

And to Dustin: Please go to your library and get yourself a big pile of books on european history, will ya? Wink

Regards,
Thomas

http://maerenundlobebaeren.tumblr.com/
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Mihai Ionita




Location: Romania
Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 49

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2010 5:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I meant that part with the Swiss being weird and backward as a joke. Razz

I actually find the fact that they didn't do what your average peasant did back then whenever he had leisure time (as I said before, getting drunk, getting into brawls and generally acting as a lout) something incredible and worth admiring.

I do declare, the internet is not a good medium for transmitting intent purely through text.
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Martin Wallgren




Location: Bjästa, Sweden
Joined: 01 Mar 2004

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Posts: 620

PostPosted: Tue 27 Jul, 2010 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Teaching Company - TTC has a good series of lectures on medieval history in three separate parts. Its exellent for a beginner who want some overall knowlage on the subject.

Here be links...
http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=8267
http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=869
http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedesclong2.aspx?cid=8296

Swordsman, Archer and Dad
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 8:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Get a book. Or several. Wink For good general overviews of medieval warfare, I'd generally recommend J.F. Verbruggen's stuff.
Ian Heath's Armies of the Middle Ages (in several volumes) aren't bad either. But maybe I don't even need to tell you that since you could just visit myArmoury's own bookshelf!
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,816

PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/Sbook.html

http://www.sirclisto.com/

^^^Two good starts for the curious

A good shelf-able British research site is

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/

I am sure similar site and archives are available for most European nations.

Froissart online, just a few of many portals

www.sheffield.ac.uk/hri/projects/projectpages/onlinefroissart

www.hrionline.ac.uk/onlinefroissart/

etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/FroChro.html

Contemporary to Froissart and mentioned widely in other links already posted, Thomas Walsingham

www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1376goodparliament.html

While it may seem difficult to open the chest of sources, simple internet searches are invaluable to a student of real interests. Google books and ebooks in general growing expotentially.

Universities and libraries will have the best access tools for research and discussions/articles but Google books and other open sources are growing every day.

Cheers

GC
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not entirely that sure about the merits of getting to the primary sources at such an early stage, though. The poor lad really needs a good introduction, and alas no medieval writer ever seemed to have had the superhuman foresight to write "My Life and Times for Dummies" so we're stuck with secondary-source overviews. Jumping straight into the primaries tend to just boggle the mind of the beginning student because they don't have the background to see the order in all that weirdness yet.
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,816

PostPosted: Tue 10 Aug, 2010 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
I'm not entirely that sure about the merits of getting to the primary sources at such an early stage, though. The poor lad really needs a good introduction, and alas no medieval writer ever seemed to have had the superhuman foresight to write "My Life and Times for Dummies" so we're stuck with secondary-source overviews. Jumping straight into the primaries tend to just boggle the mind of the beginning student because they don't have the background to see the order in all that weirdness yet.


A true beauty of the http://www.sirclisto.com/ links is that the site is quite expansive and even the simplest terms and descriptions of battles are available. One should certainly approach the study at their own pace but if more serious interest is needed, say for schoolwork, the internet at large is an oyster with the pearls too often disregarded in favor of the fast food appetites some get all they need from. Clisto's pages do certainly present it all as a guide for the novice and more erudite as well.

Cheers

GC
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