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The Medieval (Military) Theory of John of Salisbury

The Medieval (Military) Theory of John of Salisbury

Paper by John Hosler

Given at Fort Leavenworth, on January 7, 2021

John of Salisbury (died 1180) was a prolific and erudite English writer. Dubbed “the best classical scholar of his age,” he was clerk to St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury and, later, became the bishop of Chartres. Among his numerous works is the book Policraticus, which, despite its fame as a political and moral treatise, has been virtually ignored by military historians. More’s the pity: Policraticus was read by military commanders and strategists into the 18th century and contained concepts on generalship, logistics, pay, discipline, training, and the military-state relationship that appeared in later–and purportedly innovative–treatises by such later writers as Thomas Aquinas, Christine de Pizan, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Justus Lipsius.

In this talk, Professor John D. Hosler will survey the martial content in John of Salisbury’s writings and explain how he serves as the medieval bridge between ancient and early-modern military theory.

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John D. Hosler is Professor of Military History at the Command and General Staff College and an expert in warfare in medieval Europe and the Middle East. You can learn more about John’s work on his own website, or follow him on Twitter @medievalist1

Top Image: Policraticon de Jean de Salisbury – BSG Ms1145 fol. 3r 

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