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‘…Men famous in combat and battle…’: Common soldiers and the siege of Bruges, 1127

‘…Men famous in combat and battle…’: Common soldiers and the siege of Bruges, 1127

Laurence W Marvin

Journal of Medieval History, Volume 24, Issue 3 (1998)

Abstract: The siege of Bruges in 1127 tells us many things about warfare in the High Middle Ages. The major sources, including Galbert of Bruges, are overlooked by virtually all military historians. These sources provide one of the most detailed examples of any siege fought in Western Europe during the twelfth century. The conflict at Bruges illustrates the role of common soldiers and non-combatants in warfare — that they participated in large numbers, and were essential to the conduct of siege operations. Archers and crossbowmen performed valuable services for both attack and defence, while engineers or men with specialized skills built and operated sophisticated machinery. The siege of Bruges drew common soldiers from all over Flanders, including ‘men famous in combat and battle’ that a later generation would call routiers. Knightly warfare was virtually nonexistent in siege warfare. The factional strife that plagued Bruges was not that of class or military function but of locale, respective authority and disparate economic goals. The phrase ‘those who work’, from the traditional tripartite structure of medieval society, is a fitting appellation for the common soldiers who participated in the siege, because sieges were tedious but required hard work and specialized skills for success.

Click here to read this article from the Journal of Medieval History

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