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Title: Bloodied banners : the forms and functions of martial display on the medieval battlefield
Author: Jones, Robert
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2006
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The study of medieval military display has been dominated by social historians for whom it is a means of understanding the ties of family, lordship and power. Its military function and importance on the battlefield is often marginalised, reduced to the practicalities of command and control or the identification of friend from foe. This thesis argues that those functions recognised by social historians were just as important on the battlefields of the High Middle Ages as off them. The battlefield was a social arena for the elite, for whom displays of individual identification and membership of the armigerous class were essential for the maintenance of their status. It is argued that the forms of display in use were much broader than just heraldry and banners, and included livery and the badge, war-cries and musical instruments and the arms, armour and other accoutrements the warrior took into battle. Drawing on the fields of biology and anthropology it is argued that both the forms and functions of display have drives deeper than those created by the dictates of medieval military culture. Display as a form of threat or warning, common to all creatures, can be seen as a function of that of the warrior. Symbols identifying the individual on the field might deter a prospective attacker. The wearing of armour not only made the warrior feel invulnerable but also altered his body shape, making him appear more masculine and powerful. It altered his experience of the battlefield which, it is argued, led to the donning of armour becoming a transitional ritual taking the warrior from peace to war. Finally, this study uses display as a vehicle for challenging the theory of a fourteenth-century military revolution. It is argued that display shows continuity of military culture that underlay the tactical, administrative and technological developments in war.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available