The nature of war and its impact on society during the Barons’ War, 1264-67
By Fergus Oakes
PhD Dissertation, University of Glasgow, 2016
Abstract: This thesis examines the nature of war and its impact on society in the English civil war, known as the Barons’ War, which was waged from 1264-67 between King Henry III and a baronial opposition led by Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester. This is the first dedicated major study of the civil war as a war rather than as a political or constitutional event. While several of the war’s important campaigns have received individual study, the broader issues of the war, like the state and use of castles and town defences, guerrilla warfare and the impact of these on society have not received the same attention.
Military history in general has received comparatively little study from the early to mid-thirteenth century and this thesis seeks to examine potential military developments between the civil war of 1215-17; the wars of Edward I in the late-thirteenth century and the Barons’ War’s possible impact upon these.
Chapter one contextualizes the military experience and the types of men engaged in the civil war; the methods of recruitment and the general ‘customs of war’. This discussion will inform the discussion in the rest of the thesis. While castles were a crucial aspect of medieval warfare their role in 1263-1267 remains little studied, despite a considerable body of surviving documentation relating to them.
Chapter two will therefore focus on the role, state and struggle for control of castles, particularly royal castles on the eve of the war. Chapter three will examine their use and effectiveness in warfare, the techniques and problems of besieging them and, in particular, will utilize a number of illustrative case studies of major sieges in the conflict.
The fourth chapter will examine the previously unexamined role of town defences in the war, particularly their state and effectiveness. In chapter five, the thesis will bring a fresh focus by discussing the use of the wilderness by both sides as a tool of resistance, with its principal focus on the war waged by the Disinherited after the battle of Evesham until 1267 and its impact and significance.
The final chapter examines the nature of warfare at a very local level, exploring how the issues and events described in the former chapters impacted on communities and also more local participation in waging war as well as examining the blurred lines between warfare and crime. The appendices include a discussion of the involvement of Robert de Ferrers, earl of Derby in the largely unexplored events of the siege of Gloucester in 1264.
Top Image: MS Bodley Douce 180 Douce Apocalypse – fol. 88