Re-thinking the origins of the ‘Irish’ hobelar


Rethinking the origins of the ‘Irish’ hobelar

By Robert Jones

Cardiff Historical Papers (2008)

Introduction: The hobelar is something of a sideshow in medieval military history. In the past century there have been only two major studies of this troop type: J.E. Morris’ ‘Mounted Infantry Warfare’ in 1914 and J. Lydon’s ‘The Hobelar: An Irish Contribution to Medieval Warfare’ in 1954. This is perhaps surprising given that Morris saw the hobelar as the precursor to the mounted longbowman, while Lydon called him ‘the most effective fighting man of the age’, referring to the hobelar as ‘an entirely different type of mounted soldier’. Other historians have only considered the hobelar in passing, and have been happy to accept the conclusions of Morris and Lydon. If he is so important to the development of warfare in the High Middle Ages, why has not more work been done on him? This paper looks again at the conclusions of Morris and Lydon, and seeks to re‐evaluate the hobelar’s origins and legacy.

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