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Author Topic:   Starting a war
posted 08-30-2004 05:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
I've always wondered how this was done. Supposing I'm a noble (could nobles start a war? Or only kings?) and want to, say, take my neighbour's land. What do I do? Send him a note, meet my army in a week's time, down the plains, one o'clock? Somehow this doesn't sound right.
But if I just invade him, how will his army have time to arrange?

[This message has been edited by Maria (edited 09-02-2004).]

posted 08-30-2004 03:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
Anyone could start a 'war' I suppose, so long as you had the resources to back it up. I suppose we start splitting it into types, war, skirmish, revolt etc. Even the so called '100-years war' of mainly France & England was mostly a series of battles, skirmishs'.
That is why it would be people with men & equipment with a great deal to gain. Being on the losing side normally meant you head as you know. And maybe the rest of your family.
Could be very nasty!

Senior Member
posted 09-01-2004 07:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
If we talk about a feud between neighbours: You would start with provocating actions. Pay some burglars or send some of your soldiers by night to rob cow and sheep from your neighbours lands or to burn down some farmhouses (it was mostly the peasants that suffered by such occasions). If your opponent says now openly that you robbed him, you say that he has no right to say so and that you want revenge for that offence. You then gather your soldiers, invade your opponents lands and try to take his castles. But first you always have to be sure that you have the mightier friends than he has, or it could be you to loose it all in the end...

That's how it worked in several cases, but there were other possibilities as well.

posted 09-02-2004 05:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks, Peter. Talking about how much an individual could gain from a war, I remember seeing on Discovery a documentary about the battle of Azincourt. They said French noblemen went to war as if it was a lottery. You had to get a rich prisoner then live on the ransom for the rest of your life.
Thanks Merlin. I guess kings used to start a war just like nobles. All you needed was a good pretext.
Still, how did they arrange for armies to meet? Because it would be rather silly to wait for the oponents army in the wrong place. Were spies involved? Or perhaps something like a common friend?

Senior Member
posted 09-03-2004 06:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
As I understand it, there was something like a code of warship. And you have to imagine that Europe did not look the same in the middle ages as it does today. There were not too many flat and open fields but much more woodland. Larger armies could not move very fast and when they got near, they just met on the next open field. Guerilla-like tactics were not as common as today - to meet your enemy in open battle was also a question of honour.

posted 09-04-2004 02:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
This some information I found about war concerning Medieval Romania (which was three countries at the time). So, let's say that the Turkish Empire planed a new war because taxes haven't been payed. They sent a large army, which was obviously no match for ours. So, what did Romanian kings (voievod or domn, as they were called) do? Burn the crop-fields, poison the fountains and order all the population to go in the mountains. This was called burned-ground tactique. It starved the big enemy army. Then our army waited them in a narrow space (swamp, or mountain pass) and start the battle. Usually they only fought the avan-garde, then retreat to the fortresses. This is another funny thing and raises the question "When was a country conquered?" The answer seems to be when its fortresses/castles fall, am I right?
I had forgoted about the forest in Europe at the time, so, yes, not many plains, not many places to meet.

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posted 12-06-2005 01:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
Raising an army was a major undertaking. Most nobles had people under them, with more peopl under them.

Suppose Duke Ducky wants to attack his neighbor. He'll want a big army to lay siege to the castle, so he calls out Baron Blair, and Count DeMonay, and the Earl of Mon-Quis, who owe him liege service. Then, these guys call their underlings, and so on down the line till a thousand peasants have been told to pack up their pitchforks, grab spears, and march.

Keeping this sort of thing a secret would be pretty difficult. With no newspaper or TV, you got your info from travelers, or sent out spies, or whatever, and spent most of your life learning how to ask the right people the right questions.

Most people were itching to start a war anyway, since that was the easiest way to get more land. Of course, being sure you could beat your enemy was the most important thing.

Usually, two lords might have a feud of some sort picked out, and to resolve it, they WOULD send invitations as to where to fight. Rules of chivalry required you to answer these invitations, and answering with a "no" was a major disgrace.

Clever tacticians might agree to meet in a location that didn't exist. Then, you go out to find the place, villages and castles nearby see you both marching about trying to find it, you send nasty-grams back and forth, and then when the weather gets bad, you say something like "... Uh, well, we didn't find our foe. He must have been too cowardly to meet us on the field. Let's get back home in time to harvest our crops, and try again next year."

posted 12-08-2005 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
Oh God... I remember reading in Huizinga a case of a nobleman letting the other wait in the rain for three days or so. Do you know about a specific case of unreal meeting place?(That must have been fun... trying to find the place and not to find the enemy in the same time... hehe.)

[This message has been edited by Maria (edited 12-09-2005).]

Senior Member
posted 12-13-2005 01:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve-O-Gerst   Click Here to Email Steve-O-Gerst     Edit/Delete Message
Oh Gosh! I don't know about an INTENTIONAL false meeting place, but I know there was a couple of wars where the parties agreed to meet somewhere, but then couldn't find each other, and called it off for a season.

Sounds suspicious to me, but maybe that's just my own life experience talking... MM, I think I read about that in one of those little Osprey publications they tuck away in the back of hobby shops. Well, I can tell you the event I'm thinking about probably happened some time between 1200-1400.

posted 01-18-2006 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SwordOfErin   Click Here to Email SwordOfErin     Edit/Delete Message
Nobles could also start wars. I know to spark off seiges you posted your men and engines outside the castle, and your opponenet had until you lanched the first catapult to surrendor with honor intact. In the early days, there wasn't a reliable law or code of chivalry to keep you from attacking somebody for whatever reasons, in later days, I'm not certain. A lot of wars I've read about start when somebody kills another person in a fit of passion,and then the family musters to avenge the death.

All times are PT (US)

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