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Title: The English 'soldier' c. 1400-1461 : perceptions of professionalism and criminality
Author: Drewitt-Wex, Thomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 0410
Awarding Body: University of Winchester
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis examines a number of hitherto underexplored topics concerning the circumstances of the ‘soldier’ – both man-at-arms and archers – in later medieval England. The study of warfare in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries has flourished over the past few decades, and there has been a steady increase in detailed scholarly interest into the rankand-file who served in English expeditionary forces and garrisons. To date, however, there has still been relatively little research conducted into the socio-economic and socio-political circumstances of those below the rank of the gentry who fought in the fifteenth-century phase of Hundred Years War and in the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. This thesis builds on the opportunities created by recent historiographical advancements and the shape of the writing on the field. In particular, it considers two key themes: professionalism and perceptions of criminality among ordinary ‘soldiers’. The first chapter seeks to define the contemporary understanding of the word ‘soldier’ and, through an etymological study, to demonstrate the correlation between its use and the development of increasing military professionalism in the period. The second chapter examines the social origins, motivations and reintegration of some combatants by exploring the degree to which more traditional recruitment mechanisms – particularly the use of a lord’s tenants - were still utilised in the fifteenth century. The second part of the thesis then reflects on and challenges the modern preconception that ‘soldiers’ were a negative and criminal element within English society, especially following the loss of Lancastrian Normandy. The third chapter considers their characterisation in the contemporary correspondence and chronicles of the mid-fifteenth century, especially those collectively known as the London Chronicles - and in so doing challenges the predominantly negative reception that they have received from modern scholars. The final chapter then examines the records of the Court of King’s Bench to consider whether there is any empirical evidence to substantiate the notion of criminality among ‘soldiers’ and explores the nature of the crimes of which they were accussed. The chapter also considers their possible involvement in the popular rebellion of Jack Cade.
Supervisor: Ross, James ; Lavelle, Ryan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available