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With the encroachments of the barbarians upon the frontiers of the Roman Empire, a decisive change came over the character of warfare. The Roman army, as reorganised by Diocletian and Constantine, differed greatly from the army of earlier days. The old distinction between the legionary who was a Roman citizen and the auxiliary recruited from the provinces had long disappeared; the employment of mercenary soldiers from the tribes which surrounded the Empire had modified the whole character of the imperial forces; a new regular army came into being, in which novel elements, the Palatine troops which were directly at the Emperor’s disposal, and the Comitatenses who could be moved from the interior of the Empire to meet pressure upon any part of the frontier, took precedence of the older legions stationed in garrisons upon its limits. Cavalry and light-armed infantry, to cope with the inroads of swiftly-moving enemies, assumed an importance which tended to supersede that of the heavy-armed foot-soldier, the traditional mainstay of the Roman military power. The barbarian, in contact with the legions, had profited by his experience; the mercenary who had served in the imperial ranks returned to his home with a new knowledge of the art of war and of mili tary equipment. The enemies with whom the Romans of the later Empire had to deal were formidably armed and could fight upon equal terras with their opponents; while the Roman armies themselves, heterogeneous in composition, no longer formed a compact machine which easily submitted to control. Civil war between rival Emperors and the divided interests of East and West hastened the end of what still remained of the old military system amid its transformations.

The defeat of Valens by the Goths at Hadrianople (378) proved that a new force had arrived against which traditional tactics were found wanting. The battle, begun as an attack by the Roman legions upon the barricades of the Gothic camp, was decided by a sudden charge of cavalry, which threw the Romans into confusion and placed them at the ipercy of their) enemies. Henceforward cavalry took the upper hand in warfare. Under Theodosius the Great a new army took the place of that which had been destroyed at Hadrianople. Foreign chiefs with their bands of personal followers, horsed and armed with lances, were attracted into his service by gifts and promises and gave him their allegiance. With the aid of these foederati he repressed the revolt of the western legions, and so established the supremacy of cavalry and the Teutonic adventurer in the West. While, however, Italy was abandoned to the strife of federate leaders and to the invasions of Goths and Vandals, the Eastern Emperors kept the foreign element in their armies under control. The influence of the foederati is seen in the tendency of the army to move in groups attached by ties of personal allegiance to individual leaders; the greatest generals, Belisarius and Narses, were surrounded like any German chieftain by their comitatus of picked followers, and the prominence which his officers thus acquired was a source of suspicion and jealousy to Justinian, whose policy was directed to checking the power of individuals by dividing and changing the command. But the army which had adopted this alien custom was still in large part drawn from the confines of the Empire, and from it was evolved a force which gave to medieval Europe an example of highly developed strategic and tactical practice.

Under the successors of Justinian the foederati decreased in number and importance, as the prospect of the rewards which had allured them at first declined. The comitatus disappeared, and the Byzantine army, as reconstructed by the military reformers of the end of the sixth and beginning of the seventh centuries, was organised under commanders whose authority was derived immediately from the. Emperor. The regiments representing the numeri of the older Roman army, ceased to be independent units, and were grouped into brigades, each under its brigadier: three brigades, each of two to three thousand men, formed a division. In this army, drawn from within the Empire, the purely alien element was small and well under the control of an imperial officer who commanded the corps of foreign soldiers. The themeor army corps became the basis of a system of administration in which civil was subordinated to military government. The civil province was converted into the military theme, ruled by the commander of the corps and staffed by his officers. In this subdivision of the Empire, subject to regrouping and further partition as time went on, the shrunken body of foederati was represented by the Optimatian theme, with its capital at Nicomedia, while the Bucellarian theme, adjoining it to the east, was garrisoned by the foreign members of the iperial guards, which had formed the Emperor's comitatus. No regular systen of universal military service was develiped, in spite of the military basis of government; but there were certainly no difficulty in reruiting forces within the borders of the Empire, or in finding competent officers among members of noble and wealty famlies.

The all important factor in the Byzantuie army was its heavy cavalry. The byzantine cavalry man, with his close-fitting steel helm and shirt of mail, and his round shield worn on the left shoulder, rode with a long lance and broad sword, dagger and bow and quiver at his saddle-bow. The use of the bow by horsemen was the result of contac with hostile forces whose main arm it was, and the cavalry of the Eastern Empire employed it with skill and effect. Moreover, the experience of warfare against the Goths had shown that an enemy who confined the use of the bow to his infantry was unable to combine the operations of his horse and foot successfully. In the open field, the Byzantine infantry played a very subordinate part; employed against enemies like the Franks, whose armies fought chiefly on foot, the heavy infantry with foot-archers ranged on its flanks was covered by wings of horsemen, ready to close in upon the hand-to-hand struggle in the centre and administer the coup de grace. Otherwise, the use of infantry was to operate in districts where horsemen were at a geographical disadvantage.

This was the army whose organisation in an era of reform is drawn in the Strategicon of Maurice (Emperor 583-603), written about 580. The fruits of its experience are contained in the Tactica of Leo VI (886-913), when the Saracens were the principal foes of the Empire. Although the use of infantry is not neglected by Leo, infantry tactics in his day were of small importance. The Saracen was an armed horseman, hardly inferior at close quarters to the cavalry of the Empire, formidable in the crowds of horse-archers with which he could molest less mobile forces. His footsoldiers, following in the wake of his horsemen, were practically negligible. The strategy and tactics of the Byzantine army were thus directed towards campaigns in which infantry were useful merely upon occasion, and towards battles from which they might be wholly absent, and the most valuable and original sections of Leo’s discussion of tactics are concentrated upon the effective use and disposition of cavalry. Similarly, towards the end of the tenth century, when the Saracen menace was far less serious and Nicephorus Phocas (963-969) had taken Antioch and Aleppo, the author of Perí Paradromís Polemon, outlining the conduct of a war against Saracen raiders, treats the cavalry as the main arm in the battlefield, and relegates the infantry to garrison duty on the edge of the mountain district through which the invaders entered the central plateau of Anatolia. At the same tijne, the use of infantry in the field was not neglected, and Leo gives detailed advice for their cooperation with horsemen.

The preponderance of cavalry forces in the West was reached much more slowly. The battle of Châlons (450), in which Roman and Gothic horsemen combined to check the progress of the horse-bowmen of Attila, belongs to the last days of the Western Empire; the Roman legionary had passed, but the altered tactics of the Western horseman with lance and bow and of his ally, the Teutonic lancer, found no general success outside Italy, where they were the resources of a power in its last decline. The Franks who overran northwestern Europe were bands of foot­soldiers, who depended upon their speed in movement and their missile weapons, the casting axe and the heavy javelin. At close quarters they fought with sword, shield, and dagger. The use of body armour came 50—2 slowly, and, while horsemanship came with it, the horse was regarded as a means of locomotion rather than as an aid to battle. Their favourite method of fighting was in a close square, which turned its face to meet successive changes of attack, and, even when the mounted knight was beginning to count as an important element in their host, he still fought on foot when battle was joined. While there were exceptions to this rule, it prevailed as late as the battle of Poitiers (732), where Charles Martel and his Franks were engaged with the hosts of Saracen light cavalry. Here the charge of an insignificant force of armed horsemen would have courted defeat, and the serried infantry formation was justified by complete victory.

Apart from these defensive tactics, the success of which depended upon sheer weight of resistance to a lightly armed foe, the Franks of the Merovingian period developed no systematic art of war. Under the great mayors of the palace they learned discipline; the victory of Poitiers is all the, more remarkable because it followed a period of internecine strife, in which the Frankish kingdom had ceased to be a formidable foe. Charles Martel’s army, recruited on the principle of the national levy en masse, and including numbers of soldiers whose training can have been in the circumstances only indifferent, did credit to his competent generalship. While this battle was won by infantry, it is clear that operations against a mounted enemy were necessarily accompanied by a development in horsemanship, which was further improved by subsequent contact with the Lombard cavalry in Italy. It was not, however, until the area of Frankish conquest was enlarged by Charles the Great that methods of warfare were systematised among his subjects. The use of armour was enjoined by legislation, which prohibited the exportation of mail shirts from the realm. In the campaigns against the Lombards and Avars a host of cavalry was raised under compulsion firom the great tenants and their followers. For the ill-organised national levy was substituted a new system of service, founded upon the obligation of property and arranged upon a graduated scale which relieved the poorer land-owner of a disproportionate share in the cost of equipment; efficiency took the place of casual methods. It is true that Charles’ care for his army was neutralised by the civil dissensions which destroyed his Empire in the course of the ninth century; but, amid the weakness of his successors and the growth of feudal principalities, the military reforms which he inaugurated bore fruit, and the tactics of feudal warfare were developed upon foundations which he had laid.

Of the personal tactics of Charles in battle the records are somewhat deficient. The destruction of his rearguard at Roncesvalles was due rather to a lapse in strategic foresight than to a tactical error; the unexpected attack afforded no opportunity for tactical skill. As a strategist, however, this was his one mistake. The success of his campaigns was the work of a mind which carried the map of his realm imprinted upon it and saw the possibilities which lay beyond its extending boundary. If his successors failed to profit by his example in this respect, he at any rate bequeathed a permanent legacy to Western strategy in his establishment of a chain of fortified bases along his eastern frontier, at once a barrier to the invader and a starting-point for fresh offensives. The burg-system of Charles the Great was the prototype, in a general sense, of the burhs which Alfred and Edward the Elder opposed to the advance of the Danes in England; it was revived with signal success by Henry the Fowler and Otto the Great. When feudalism brought about the growth of the castle, the strategic employment of the private fortress as a link in a chain of military outposts was fully recognised. The disposition of the Conqueror’s castles in England, the line of fortresses which guarded the trans-Jordanic frontier of the kingdom of Jerusalem, and the Edwardian combinations of citadel and walled town in Wales, were later applications of the same principle. Such applications can hardly be ascribed to direct imitation of the exploits of Charles; but of the experience and instinct which dictated them he may claim to be the first representative among medieval generals.

It may be questioned how far, as the Frankish kingdom assumed coherent form and profited by civilisation, the remains of the Roman occupation influenced its military progress. The traditions of Roman practice outside the Eastern Empire were, by the eighth and ninth centuries, too vague to make much impression on the Frank. Similarly in England the Saxon seems to have learned little from the conquered Romano-Briton. His first invasions, like those of the Frank, were made in isolated bands under individual leaders. Of the art of fortification he knew nothing, and it was not until the time of Alfred that any movement was made to repair the walls of Roman cities which the first settlers had left desolate. In the course of the eighth century the use of armour progressed; it is probable that the English profited to some extent by the importation of shirts of mail from France, the traffic which we have seen forbidden by Charlemagne. Horsemanship, however, lagged far behind. The Englishman had to contend with no mounted enemy on the trackless borders of the Saxon kingdoms; the battles of rival tribes were hand-to-hand encounters on foot, in which one army fought the other with spears behind the close “shield-wall” formed by the round linden shields borne by each warrior. In such straightforward conflicts there was no opportunity for tactics; both sides fought until one gave way. The geography of the early wars of Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex is too obscure to allow the discovery of much strategic capacity; victory probably depended upon superior numbers and good fortune, and the unfortunate campaign which Ecgfrith led against the Picts in 685 seems to have been conducted with a rashness and ignorance which may not have been exceptional. In Alfred, however, strategic genius came to the front; in his wars with Guthrum and Hasting he achieved success by his perception of the advantage of avoiding pitched battles by sudden strokes at the enemy’s base of operations, while by his formation of a fleet he supplied his land-forces with an indispensable auxiliary in their contest with a race of seamen.

The enemy whom Alfred and his immediate successors kept in check was, like Frank and Saxon, a marauder bent upon plunder, whose casual attacks upon the coastline did not develop at once into an organised attempt at occupation and conquest. The settlements which the Northmen effected in England and the Frankish kingdom were formed by the command of rivers along which their open ships penetrated into the interior, and beside which they made their camps. Their heavy axes and swords could be used to purpose in hand-to-hand fight; but it was not until their raids upon undefended country had put them in possession of horses and armour that their military talent appeared. The latest of the invaders of western and southern Europe, they were the readiest to take advantage of the systems which they encountered in their wanderings. From a sea-rover whose methods, when he was obliged to light on land, were of the simplest, the Northman became the most accomplished soldier in Europe. At the siege of Paris in 886 he was in possession of siege­engines, the use of which he had probably derived from observation of Byzantine methods of war. It is among the Normans, again, that we find the crossbow in use in the eleventh century; this, known to the Roman soldier but long forgotten, was re-invented during this period by a logical application of the principle of the balista or javelin-throwing engine to a missile weapon which could be worked by one man. Whether the discovery can be ascribed to the Normans is uncertain, but they, at any rate, were foremost to profit by it.

This advance took place upon the continent, where it kept pace with the advance of feudalism. It was a feudal army, drawn from Normandy and the adjacent provinces, that Harold, accompanied by the hastily-raised force of the English shires, met at Hastings. From a victory in a hand-to-hand conflict at Stamford Bridge, where both sides as usual fought on foot with axe, spear, and sword, he came into a field where his infantry had to face unfamiliar and superior tactics. His forces included large bodies of men armed only with the traditional English weapons, against whom were arrayed armed infantry with bowmen and crossbow­men in their front line. The English had no cavalry; on the other side, the rear was composed of horsemen, ready to alternate with the bowmen and foot-soldiers in attacks upon the solid mass defended by the shield­wall which fronted them. With the advantage of position on their side, and with unfaltering steadiness, Harold’s army stood for hours upon the defensive, enduring the flights of arrows and repelling the charges which followed, until the king was slain and their ranks at last were broken. The obstinate tactics which had been proof against the Saracen cavalry at Poitiers were now no guarantee of success, even had all the English host at Hastings been trained and armed warriors; against the scientific combination of foot-archers and spearmen, backed up by horsemen, the inert mass of infantry was of no avail.


In 1071, five years after Hastings, the Byzantine army, the oldest and best trained military force in Europe, was destroyed in battle with the Seljuq Turks at Manzikert in Armenia. The fight was purely one of cavalry, heavily armed horsemen (cataphracts) against hordes of skilful riders who used the bow to harass their enemy without engaging in close conflict. Rashness in venturing into a position where troops were open to flank attack and encircling manoeuvres, combined with treachery in the Byzantine ranks, caused the disaster, which was as great a blow to the military organisation as Hadrianople, seven centuries before, had been. The consequent menace of the Seljuq power to Europe was the political cause which, joined with religious enthusiasm, provoked the Crusades.

The conduct of the Crusades, quite apart from the initial difficulty caused by the assemblage of heterogeneous multitudes from rival nations under jealous leaders of very different capacity, was distinguished by singular improvidence. The strategic problems of carrying a large force to Syria through Asia Minor, an unknown country laid waste by its Turkish invaders, and of holding the precarious group of feudal states formed in Syria against an active and dangerous enemy, might well have taxed the genius of the most competent general. The leaders knew nothing of the topography or climate of the country through which they had to pass, nor did their suspicious Greek allies trouble to enlighten them with proper precautions. Insufficiently provisioned, liable to continual annoyance from the bands of Seljuq horsemen who hung upon their progress, and occasionally without adequate weapons to repel their attacks, they reached Syria with forces enormously depleted. In Syria itself the possession of Jerusalem was the engrossing interest, and the systematic conquest which would have secured that position was neglected in favour of holding isolated posts without proper lines of communication. While the navies of the Italian cities held the coast-line which brought them commercial profit, the Frankish counts and barons, with inadequate forces, were unable to control the interior of the kingdom of Jerusalem; and when in 1149 the armies of the Second Crusade had a good prospect of capturing Damascus, the chance was lost by the mutual distrust of the generals.

Had the crusaders profited by the experience of Byzantine tacticians in the open field, their victories would have produced a more permanent result. From Byzantine methods of fortification they learned much; the practice, of which examples were under their eyes in the Eastern Empire, was employed by them with advantage in their Syrian fortresses and was transferred by them to the West, so that the military architecture of the thirteenth century seems a direct inheritance from the Roman period. On the other hand, even if the crusading leaders had possessed the leading necessary for acquaintance with Greek manuals of theory, they might have mistrusted the practical incompetence which was unable to avoid wholesale disaster at Manzikert. As it was, left to their own resources in Asia Minor and Syria, they had no local experience to depend upon and were forced to experiment with opportunity. Their tactics were of a haphazard character; and, while the numerous chroniclers who recorded their battles showed an observation from which it is easy to draw deductions, the Crusades produced no classical hand-book of warfare.

It has already been said that the Turkish strength lay chiefly in large forces of light cavalry, which, operating in an open area, pursued irritating tactics against which an enemy was helpless. To meet them effectively, it was necessary to choose ground on which their outflanking movements could be prevented. Where they closed in upon their opponents without the possibility of encircling them, the mailed horseman of the West had his advantage. In such a position also a combination of infantry with heavy cavalry ensured success to the crusaders; the crossbowmen in the infantry line countered the arrows from the Turkish horse-bows and prepared the way for the cavalry charges which decided the day. The proper observation of these conditions, combined with caution in keeping on the defensive until the attack could be delivered with a certain prospect of victory, led to the blow inflicted by Richard I upon Saladin at Arsuf in 1191, the culminating point of crusading successes which, had full advantage been taken of it, would have re-established the Franks in Jerusalem. Even at Antioch (1098) in the First Crusade, where the army was beset in front and rear, its disposition across the plain between the northern hills and the Orontes was a decisive element in its favour; the two Turkish forces were hindered from uniting, and while the combination of infantry and cavalry put the Turks to flight on the main front, detachments of heavy cavalry engaged the smaller body of horse in the rear with complete success. But, where precautions were disregarded, where, from mere rashness or out of necessity, an unfavourable position was chosen, or where infantry and horse failed to co-operate, only a happy accident could save the day. In the first great battle of the Crusades, at Dorylaeum (1091), defeat was avoided only by the sudden arrival of a lost contingent; at Hittin (1187), the disaster which gave Jerusalem to Saladin was caused by the choice of an impossible battleground, and by the inability of an exhausted infantry to take its part in the ensuing conflict.

Thus, while the Crusades exhibit instances of judicious and even, as in Baldwin II’s battle array at Danith (or Hab, 1119), of elaborate tactics, their leaders were liable to the same mistakes at the end as at the beginning. No scientific method of warfare was evolved from them. Even if the deduction could hardly fail to be drawn that the support of infantry was an aid to victory in certain circumstances, the principle was not fully extended to other occasions. Feudal chivalry put its trust in the horse and despised the infantry arm. Moreover, the prevalence of siege-warfare during the twelfth and thirteeenth centuries in Europe delayed systematic improvement in the field and tended to be the preoccupation of the foot-soldier. While the castle and walled town were still of military significance, a campaign resolved itself into a succession of sieges; the defeated side in a pitched battle could prolong a war by taking to its fortresses. Thus battles like Lincoln (1141) were often a diversion from a siege, fought under the walls of strongholds against a relieving force. There seems also to have been little study of enemy tactics apart from the familiarity which might be gained with them in the course of a protracted war. As a consequence, European warfare in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries shows a somewhat bewildering variety of practice behind which lies no constructive idea. It was not until the close of this period that the notion of cavalry as the all-important arm in the battlefield was seriously abandoned; now and then, as at Legnano (1176), confidence in cavalry to achieve a victory may have been shaken, but, whether acting alone or riding in to finish the work prepared by infantry, it was long regarded as the essential element.

It is interesting to trace the details of individual battles during this period, but a comparison of them reveals differences without discovering any co-ordinating principle. The essential distinction between the battles of the Crusades and contemporary battles in Europe lay in the fact that in the second case the cavalry on both sides was fully armed; the fights were not between heavy cavalry and infantry on one side and light horse­men on the other, but between forces whose chief arm was their heavy cavalry, whether supported by infantry or not. Thus the order of battle was different; the cavalry took the front line, with infantry in reserve to meet the enemy’s horse with their spears if the front line were broken, or a mass of infantry was brought into the middle of the front line with cavalry on the wings. At Bouvines (1214), where there is some difference of opinion about details, this seems to have been the arrangement adopted on both sides. As usual, the opposing armies were divided into three “battles,” each commanded by its own leader; the front line was placed as described, with spearmen and crossbowmen in the middle, covering the central body of cavalry, which, in the middle of the second line, was supported by infantry at the back of the cavalry wings.

While the foot-soldier, though present in large numbers, took a subordinate position in the field, and the mounted knight and man-at-arms were regarded as the decisive factor in battle, there were yet occasions on which the value of infantry to maintain a defensive position, where cavalry failed to stand an onset, pointed a moral which could not be mistaken. At Legnano the shock of Barbarossa’s horsemen broke the front line of Italian cavalry, but the attack wore itself out against the firm resistance of the closely-ranked reserve of Milanese pikemen. It is true that herethe routed horsemen rallied and materially stiffened the defence, but the credit of a victory which broke the ascendancy of feudalism in Italy belongs to the foot-soldiers of the free cities. In Italy and the Netherlands revolt against feudal lords was accompanied by the development of infantry forces and of a professional soldiery whose experience, at the service of the highest bidder, leavened European practice in war. We see also in some twelfth-century battles the employment of an expedient which had an important influence in the future. The use of dismounted horsemen in a defensive fight was not new. In the Gothic war of 552 Narses at Taginae had formed his centre by dismounting his foederati; the defensive square in which the early Frankish armies fought was strengthened by its horsemen, who took their places on foot with the rest. The amour propre of the feudal knight, however, was slow to encourage a practice which confounded him with his inferiors, and its systematic employment was long delayed.

In strategy feudal armies displayed even less advance than in tactics. It is obvious that, even where a general was familiar with the main features of the country covered by his manoeuvres, his means for detailed knowledge were small, and he had to depend much upon the reports of scouts who could not always be trusted. In an unknown country, as the crusading expeditions through Asia Minor showed, he moved blindly. Nowhere was this more conspicuous than in the unfortunate campaign of St Louis in Egypt (1250), in which, even without the chaotic disregard of prudence which caused his defeat and capture at Mansurah, the impossible route across the labyrinth of the Delta would in any case have meant disaster. The importance also of castles in warfare checked strategic development on broader lines. In England, throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, success in war depended upon the possession and defence of castles, and strategy took the form of devising the best route by which a castle might be surprised or relieved and a battle in the open avoided. Thus the civil wars of Stephen's reign, with their complicated details, were fought round castles without any consistent plan of campaign; the wars of the Plantagenets in Normandy and the Angevin dominions were concentrated upon the reduction or defence of single fortresses; and the decisive fight with the barons and their French allies in the streets of Lincoln (1217) was the result of a cunning attack on a castle which formed no part of a larger scheme. The campaign of Lewes (1264), as conducted by Henry III, was an aimless attempt at the reduction of castles, in which he deliberately threw away his chance of making for a definite objective and left the field clear for his adversary. At Lewes Simon de Montfort shewed brilliant generalship, and it is possible that a year later, had he fathomed the seriousness of his situation in time, he might have saved himself from defeat. His delay, however, in realising the menace of the alliance between Prince Edward and. the Earl of Gloucester kept him engaged in minor operations in the Welsh border until the line of the Severn was closed against him, and his subsequent endeavours to extricate himself from the trap into which he had fallen were successfully countered by his opponent until it was too late.

The success of Edward in the campaign of 1265 was the result of strategy exercised against an enemy neglectful of precautions, who, at the crowning movement, found himself bereft of succour in a position where tactics were useless. In the conduct of his wars in Wales (1277- 1295) his military skill was at its height. These wars, waged in difficult country where campaigns were necessarily prolonged into the winter, led to changes in the composition of his army, the discussion of which belongs more properly to the history of the legislation in which these years were so fertile. Feudal obligations of military service were modified and transformed by the system of longer service for fixed payment. While in this direction feudal barriers were broken down, the castle, the symbol of feudalism, was employed as the means of controlling the conquered districts; as yet its military importance was unchallenged, and its defensive superiority was for the time being firmly established.

But the Welsh wars brought about a change which, for the present purpose, is of greater moment. The traditions of cavalry battles in which Edward had been reared were of little help in a mountainous country, and reliance had to be placed in a greater degree than usual upon the infantry. Up to this time the foot-soldier’s chief weapons had been the pike and crossbow. The use of the bow, as distinguished from the cross­bow or arbalast, had been encouraged and even enjoined by legislation; the shortbow, drawn from the breast, had been long familiar, though overlooked in favour of the crossbow, and the longbow, which was aimed from the ear, had made its appearance. From whatever source the long­bow in England was derived, its home was in Wales, and it had played its part in the conquest of Ireland by the Norman settlers from South Wales. In the Welsh wars it came for the first time into prominence in the English service; and henceforward, until it was finally displaced by the progress of newer inventions, it remained the characteristic English weapon.

The value of the longbow was tested in the Scottish wars which followed. Here, as in Wales, the English horseman was opposed to squadrons of foot-soldiers on the defensive with but little cavalry support. At Falkirk (1298) the strength of huge masses of infantry in close order to keep cavalry charges at bay threatened defeat to the English, until the archers were brought up and, raining their arrows into the compact “schiltrons” of the enemy, opened the way for the horsemen to do their work. Had such tactics been properly employed at Bannockburn (1314), the English army might have obtained an advantage which it did its best to forfeit; as it was, in the haste and disorder of the attack the archers were deprived of their opportunity. Those who managed to inflict loss upon the Scots were ridden down by a squadron of Scottish horse- men posted on their flank, and the English cavalry failed miserably for the lack of the support which they had denied themselves. The crushing defeat of Bannockburn proves little in itself, for the chances of success from the beginning were entirely in favour of the Scots; but Falkirk had shown that cavalry, without the aid of a sufficient force of footmen armed with missiles, could only dash itself in vain against a wall of spearmen. Long before, at Hastings, the value of a combined body of horse and bowmen against a mass of infantry had been proved; these later lessons shewed that it was necessary to victory.

That such lessons had been taken to heart is proved by the gradual tendency to adopt an order of battle in which horsemen and archers take the defensive. The experiment of dismounting horsemen to stand a cavalry charge with their spears on foot has been mentioned. It was employed in combination with archery at Boroughbridge (1322), which thus forms a landmark in the change of English tactics, and the practice was again exemplified at Dupplin Muir (1332), where the disinherited barons overwhelmed the Scottish force which, charging on their centre, was thrown into confusion by the archers posted in open order on the wings. Its use in the French campaigns of Edward III met with striking success; tried upon more than one occasion, it was responsible for the victory of Crecy (1346), where the squadrons of English archers, set obliquely outwards on the flanks of each of the three main battles of dismounted horsemen, presented a front like the teeth of a harrow to the French army. The success of the formation was complete: the Genoese crossbowmen who opened the offensive from the French side missed their marks and were impatiently ridden down by the charge of French horsemen, who, after repeated efforts, failed to break the English line and were shot down from the flanks.

The Hundred Years’ War continued the advance which under Edward I had put an end to the stationary period in which the supremacy of cavalry had been uncontested. While England, with the development of its archery, established itself as the first military nation in Europe, it also commanded an army raised on the system of commissions of array which had superseded the old feudal levies; an army prepared for long service in the field and led by experienced captains. The fourteenth century witnessed the development of the professional soldier on a large scale. The exploits of mercenary captains and their trained companies, who followed war as a game and went anywhere where there was fighting to be done, fill the annals of the French war; the civil strife! of the Italian states produced the condottieri whose ability and ambition won principalities and controlled the political situation. At the same iirne, with this increase in military efficiency, there was little advance in great qualities of generalship. Edward III and the Black Prince, at Crecy and Poitiers, showed resource at a crisis; but there was no genius in the conditet of the campaigns which preceded those victories. The English campaigns in France were long processions with uncertain objectives, spreading devastation through a hostile country without regard to the necessity of keeping in touch with a base of operations. Both victories were won at moments in forced retreats when the English army was in danger of being cut off from its destination; they were sudden rallies at a point at which fighting was the last resource, and left the victorious side as exhausted as its opponents. They proved the superiority of English arms, at Crecy to a foe which relied upon outworn tactics, at Poitiers to a clumsy plan of attack which shewed that the lesson of Crecy had not been forgotten but had been imperfectly comprehended. While, after Poitiers, the French, under the influence of Bertrand du Guesclin, adopted the expedient of avoiding pitched battles and allowing the enemy to wear themselves out in a ravaged country, the English pursued their familiar marches through the interior. John of Gaunt’s parade of his forces in 1373 through northern and central France, and Thomas of Woodstock’s expedition to the relief of Charles of Brittany some years later, conducted by routes which were not merely circuitous but went far in the opposite direction to the places aimed at, met with no opposition and had no result other than the thinning of the invaders by famine and disease.

By the close of the fourteenth century, then, strategy among the Western armies was undeveloped, and had little opportunity of improving. But in tactics the temporary superiority of the defensive signally successful at Crecy had altered traditional conceptions of the art of war. We have seen the armed horseman, in the later days of the Roman Empire, proving his capacity to strike a decisive blow at a host in which infantry was the superior arm. The horseman, throughout the period in which the medieval nations were being formed and throughout the epoch of the supremacy of feudal institutions, ruled the course of battle; if he learned the value of co-operation with infantry, it was he who decided the day. The necessity of an infantry force in the line of battle could hardly be overlooked; examples of battles in which a cavalry charge was successful against a mixed army of horse and foot are very exceptional. Nevertheless, it was not until the English archers took the field in formidable numbers that the feudal trust in horsemen was shaken. In their first great success, at Falkirk, they were in action against large bodies of foot-soldiers and were used to ensure the success of a charge of horse. At Crecy they were opposed, with bodies of dismounted horsemen, to the attack of cavalry. At Poitiers they were met by an attack of dismounted horse modelled on the English method of array, and proved how all this was calculated to break their defence. Finally, in the victory of the Black Priince at Navarrete (1367), the Spanish horse, trained in the lessons of warfare against the Moors, was incapable of meeting this new formation; and later, at Aljubarrota (1385), Spanish chivalry was once more defeated, by an order of battle which the Portuguese kg hinad learned from his English allies.

Meanwhile, even in the day of the English archer’s triumph, new methods of warfare were beginning to appear. The archer himself, while offering a difficult problem to any attacking force, could not fail to be met with obvious precautions of defence. Plate armour, slowly introduced, was gradually superseding mail, until it became a protection for the whole body against which arrows were comparatively harmless. A new arm was coming slowly into use, at first cumbrous and ineffective, which, used for the defence and attack of strongholds in the fourteenth century, put an end to the importance of the castle, and was to supersede the longbow in the field. The appearance of a new improvement of infantry in the trained warriors of the Swiss cantons, and the development of military science in Italy, were signs of an epoch which had left the traditions of feudal war entirely behind; while, at the very end of the century, on the field of Nicopolis (1396), the last crusaders were defeated by the Eastern power whose victories were to outlast the Middle Ages and bridge the interval between them and the modern world.