Medieval Battle



What to do if you have 10,000 hours of free time?


Andy Wilkinson has recreated a miniature version of the Bayeux Tapestry - the eleventh-century embroidery that depicts William the Conqueror’s invasion of England and victory at the Battle of Hastings.  It took him 18 years to sew the 40 foot-long replica and he estimates that he spent about 10,000 hours to complete it.

Mr. Wilkinson explains, “I work a lot of night shifts and used to come home and find myself with not a lot to do for a few hours. I had seen a copied section of the tapestry at a medieval fair and thought that if they can do that so can I.

"Having never done a tapestry before, I came home and found a picture and just started to draw and sew. I had no formal training in sewing or drawing. I just drew the outlines of figures and animals like the horses onto a piece of calico material and then just stitched it.”

This version of the Bayeux Tapestry depicts the portion of the Battle of Hastings. It will be going on display at Battle Abbey, the site of the battle that was fought in 1066.

Article found here

Medieval Armies


The high lords and king – if present – serve as the generals. There is no “leading from behind”. Nobles are expected to fight on the battlefield alongside their men. The Prince Edward of Woodstock (the Black Prince) fought on and led the front lines in the Battle of Crecy when he was only sixteen years old.

Lower-ranking lords and their knights came next. Armor was very expensive and not all knights or lords could afford a full suit of armor. Some were not even mounted. However, knights fought on foot and on horseback, so not having a horse was not too much of a hindrance.

Untrained peasants made up most of a medieval army. Some of them have never seen a weapon before or come armed with their scythes. They will have reinforced gambesons or boiled leather as their armor. That’s it. Also, they must answer their lord’s call to battle, giving you a large portion of the army that doesn’t want to be there. It’s not all bad; peasants and their lords set a maximum number of days out of the year that the peasants are required to serve. The average number of days a peasant needs to serve in the lord’s army is forty days.

Mercenaries are an important part of warfare as well. They are often bored young noblemen, dispossessed knights, or general rabble. They have seen battle before and as a result are much better trained than your average peasant. However, mercenaries were also prone to deserting a losing army, stealing, being bribed, or even attacking their own side.


  • Knights – often mounted; served as the “shock” element of medieval warfare
  • Pikemen – countermeasure against charging knights; first line of an army’s defense
  • Archers – countermeasure against charging knights and infantry; often had to carry a shield to hide behind if fighting in a pitched battle; mostly peasants/yeomen; considered the lowest of the low by most nobles
  • Infantry – mostly peasants; defended the baggage train; biggest part of the army; often served a defensive role, holding off the enemy so the knights could retreat behind friendly lines to catch their breath or organize a charge


  • The king controls the whole army
  • A high lord controls a “battle” or a unit of several thousand men. A typical medieval army had three to five battles. One battle could make up the entire rearguard, while another made up the vanguard, and the rest was the centre
  • Within the battles were conrois, which was a group of ten to twenty related or friendly knights
  • Equal in size with the conrois was the lance. A single knight controlled the lance. In the 14th century, a lance was one armored knight and several mounted archers. By the 15th century, a lance could be one armored knight, his squire, an armored sergeant, three mounted archers, a pikeman, and a handgunner.

Each subdivision of the army has its own flag, banner, sigil, or other standard. The flag was important in signaling maneuvers and stood high above the fighting to serve as a rallying point. It was also the symbol of an individual lord or nobleman. Losing the flag was considered extremely disgraceful.

Pitched Battles

Pitched battles were where two opposing sides agreed on a time and place to fight. The first thing you need to know about pitched battles is that they were extremely rare in the medieval world. In the entirety of the Hundred Years’ War, there were only three “big battles” with nobility present on both sides. The moral reason for avoiding pitched battles was religion. Most believed God would let the “righteous” side to win. While the righteous side was obvious when the Christians fought the Muslims, setting Christians against Christians muddled the matter entirely. Neither side wanted to be proved as the “evil” one. (Some Christians justified this by claiming God had inflicted a defeat against the morally righteous side merely to test their faith.)

The practical reason for avoiding pitched battles was the contemporary military doctrine. Common wisdom of the time held that capturing castles and other fortifications would lead to victory. After all, once a castle fell, the lands it owned also fell to the conquerors. Medieval warfare mostly consisted of leapfrogging from castle to castle until you or the enemy gave up


Chivalry on the battlefield demanded that knights would not sneak-attack other knights, kill helpless men even if they were the enemy, maintain all loyalties previously made, refrain from targeting a knight’s horse to bring him down, not attack an unarmored knight, accept the enemy’s surrender without inflicting further damage, and so on. Some knights took it seriously. (There is one case of a castellan surrendering his castle merely because he was impressed a certain lord was besieging him.) Most … didn’t.

Chivalry, when practiced only by one side, put the other side at a distinct advantage. Most pitched battles discarded chivalry altogether, especially the rule about not inflicting further damage after a surrender.

Archers had the worst of it. Knights hated archers because they were often peasants, and could bring down a knight while standing two hundred yards away – like a coward. Captured archers could expect no mercy. At the very least, their hands would be chopped off so they could never wield a bow again. At the worst, they served as human dummies for sword practice. 

~Note: To learn more, read the fabulous book Fighting Techniques of the Medieval World, by Matthew Bennett, Jim Bradbury, Kelly DeVries, Iain Dickie, and Phyllis G. Jestice~

Remains from those killed at the battle of Visby.

It happened a hot summer day in 1361. The battle stood between Gotlands farmers and a battle hardened army from Denmark. The farmers had the numbers on their side, but that was about every advantage they had.

As the battle begun, the farmers were greeted by hails of crossbow arrows, killing hundreds of them before swords had even been crossed.

Then, the slaugther began. It was a ferocious battle for both sides, but many of the farmers were too old or too young, and the world isn’t always as fair as in Tolkiens Lord of the rings.

One man had his jaw smashed by a hammer, another had both his legs cut off by a single blow from a great axe wielded by a Dane. Just a couple of hundred meters away, the people within the walls watched on as the farmers were slaughtered.

Once the battle was over, the thousands of dead were cast into mass graves, a lot of them not even stripped of their battle-gear, since the heat was making the bodies decompose rapidly.

The knight’s warhorse… strong, agile, smart…

The horse played an important part in the life of a knight. Knight’s horses ranged from the palfrey (used for general travel), to the destrier and the courser (owned by the wealthiest knights). Warhorses could respond to a knight’s leg-pressure commands without needing reins–the knight needed his hands, after all, to wield his weapons and his shield. The warhorse was trained to trample the bodies of fallen enemies and bite and kick on command.

According to equine historian and news director Nick Howes, the medieval knight’s trained warhorse was not a large draft horse (e.g., a Morgan) as often portrayed in some movies and books. Armour weighed 70 lbs, which didn’t require a draft horse. Heavy breed horses, that were typically bred for farming, were too placid for combat. They lacked the maneuverability or speed of smaller breeds.

Authors of “Practice of Medieval Knighthood” Christopher Harper-Bill, Ruth E. Harvey and Stephen Church agree. They call the idea of a medieval war horse standing eighteen hands tall a “myth”. Illustrations and carvings from the medieval period depict the destrier as a large and powerful horse, but not nearly as massive as a draft horse. Excavations of armour, saddles and other horse fittings indicate that medieval warhorse was comparable in size to the modern riding horse, fourteen to fifteen hands tall.

Battered Remains of Medieval Knight Discovered in UK Cathedral

The battered remains of a medieval man uncovered at a famous cathedral hint that he may have been a Norman knight with a proclivity for jousting.

The man may have participated in a form of jousting called tourney, in which men rode atop their horses and attacked one another, in large groups, with blunted weapons.

Via Live Science

The International Medieval Tournament for the sword of Zawisza the Black in Sandomierz, Poland in July includes competition of chivalric heavy cavalry (horseback), the crossbow, archery and duels with swords and axes. Historical dances are also featured in the “Jagiellonian Fair”.

Sandomierz is a charming medieval town on the right bank of the Vistula river, located about 400 km south of Grunwald, where Lady Vivianne Schoen lived in 1410 (in The Last Summoner).

Submission: A Few Thoughts on MBTI Stereotypes

“There are many, many stereotypes associated with MBTI. Most, if not all, are wrong. I felt that a few needed to be debunked.

Myth 1: Intuitive is intrinsically smarter than Sensing.

Truth 1: These letters are merely to highlight the manner in which a person takes in information. The best example is: You give a group of people a painting of a medieval battle (horses, Knights, mud, etc.) and ask them to write what they see. The Intuitive response is; “there’s a battle”, “there are two sides”. (The BIG picture) The Sensing response is; “There are 20 horses”, “The flags are red and brown” (details to form a picture). N and S are also linked to how conventional an individual is. This doesn’t govern intelligence. An S can just as well understand Relativity as an N can do basic maths. (They C-A-N) there are weaknesses inherent in both that balance the outcome out. (e.g. N might get lost in unrealistic plans and S may miss the forest for the trees)

Myth 2: Extroverts are attention whores

Truth 2: This is the opposite to the “Introverts don’t like people” myth, and it’s much less talked about. I’ve met one too many people who ascribe to this idea. NO. The I/E scale is meant to determine how one reflects and interacts socially/emotionally. Extroverts are more likely to be the center of attention, but they’re not always seeking it. They need to talk and interact to get energy, and thus tend to be louder (though not always). The word Extrovert itself means “to turn outside”. They turn to others to fuel ideas and talk out issues. This doesn’t mean they actively seek to be worshipped.

Myth 3: The types are all or nothing.

Truth 3: This one is largely popular among those who don’t know much about MBTI. I’m putting it here anyway. The various letters are not “you are this or this”. They are “you fall at this percentage point on a line”. For example: No one is just “an introvert” they are 95% Introverted or only 10% introverted. Some even fall in the middle! A person can be neither Sensing nor Intuitive, but a balance of both. Think of a number line, that’s what MBTI is meant to look like. Same goes for the cognitive functions (arguably the more important part).

Myth 4: The types tell you someone’s personality

Truth 4: If this were true the world would be a far simpler place. Unfortunately, we are more than 4 letters and 8 functions. Though a person’s type might give you a starting idea, you still have to get to know them before you can say anything. A human is so much more than a test (heck, a dog is!). We are shaped by our past, our genes, our environment, and our choices.

Myth 5: Thinking = Robot, Feeling = Emotional Wreck

Truth 5: (two myths in one!) T/F is about decisions. How do you make them? By listening to your head/facts or to your heart/other’s feelings. There are fallacies in both, and they have nothing to do with the actual person feeling emotions. Yes, T’s are (arguably) more likely to hide/bottle up emotions while F’s may be more open. This leads to the perception that Ts feel nothing and Fs feel everything. Both feel the same, they merely express themselves differently.

Those are all the myths I can pull from the top of my head. I personally am an ISTP (borderline on the P/J scale), so you may notice a very personal stake in a few of those (1 and 5). There are many more (Perceiving can’t get their s*** together comes to mind), but these make me the angriest.

I hope I could help!”

Great submission, thank you!


Waiting to fight.

From article: The Spanish team walks before taking part in the opening ceremony parade of the Medieval Combat World Championship at Malbork Castle, northern Poland, April 30, 2015. Medieval combat is a full contact sport that revives the foot based tournament fighting of medieval Europe. Countries fight in refereed matches where the objective is to get the opposing team to the floor. There are also duels with polearms, swords and shields where the number of hits landed are scored. The fighters, both male and female, wear heavy armours and weapons, mostly replicas of authentic pieces, and fight following the knights code of conduct. According to organizers, 25 nations from 6 continents are taking part in the Championships, which started on April 30 and will go on until May 3. (Photo by Kacper Pempel/Reuters)