War in the Danubian plain, Attila’s former grazing-land
War & Society in Europe Midterm There were a number of conditions that would lead to the emergence of “feudal warfare” in the early Middle Ages and there would be an equal number that would lead to its decline in the later middle ages as well yet to find the meaning of “feudal warfare” one has to look first at where this notion came from, and that was Feudalism. Feudalism was a contrasting system dealing with political and military relationships existing among members of the higher social class, Kings, Lords and other owners of large lands in Western Europe during the Middle Ages.The Feudal system started by the granting of fiefs, chiefly in the form of land and labor, in return the lord would receive political and military services that was usual sealed by oaths of fidelity, instead of a written out contract. The Lord and vassal would be interlocked in a bunch of mutual rights and obligations, to the advantage of both.
Where the lord owed his vassal protection and the vassal owed his lord a specified number of days annually in military service and supplies of goods, and the lord were expected to provide a military for his king.With that “feudal warfare” would arise as Kings would try to obtain more land then each other and expand their territory. As mentioned in class the Carolingian Empire was the first great European dynasty, it would unite all the small Frankish kingdoms that had established themselves in Gaul and this is where the early form of feudalism was used to raise the Carolingian armies. One of the major conditions that lead to the emergence of “feudal warfare” was the successive waves of invades that the different kingdom of Europe would face.Over the next three centuries there would be successive waves of attacks. The first of these waves would come from the Magyars who came according to Keegan “appeared in the Danubian plain, Attila’s former grazing-land in 862. ” The Magyars were known for their Hun like tactics attacking from the steppes, using mounted horsemen who would be armed with small bows.
They were not interested in conquest but more so on food and plunder using hit and run tactics as raiders. While the Magyars would avoid pitch battles as much as they could they would still win one major battle on the River Brenta (Keegan).Yet even though they would make it as far as France in the end they stood no chance against the organized Armies raised by the Feudal lords.
One of the more difficult threats that faced early feudal warfare and would later on lead to the decline of it was the threat from across the ocean. This threat turned out to be the Vikings from Scandinavia starting in the early 800s they too were like the Huns employing hit and run tactics but they were able to move further and with more mobility striking from what is now Denmark and Norway they were able to sail far inland to the heart of Europe.They posed a major threat to every other group the feudal style armies of Europe had not seen tactics like this before.
While these invades played a role in the prevalence of Feudal war they are also connected to the decline of it, even at the height of its power “feudal warfare” would not have the resources or proper bureaucracy, or the ability to raise funds. This would lead to a bad economic situation and after multiple invasions it would be impossible to field armies based on the feudal system.As mentioned by Keegan “Military means alone could not have sufficed to contain the devastations wrought by the various raiders of the night and tenth centuries. ” It was evident that a different system would have to come into place if nations wanted to survive the ever changing times, and this is what would come forth; while it was not a totally different system there were major changes. Changes that would see a dramatic shift in how battles were fought with troops and tactics.It was the start of the Crusades that one would start to see the changes happen, Western Europe was finally ready to go on the offensive instead of the defensive, they were turning east wards to reclaim “holy land”. One of the different troops that would be used when the need came was the invention of the Knight, who would become a central element to the advancement of feudalism, With that the knight had to be able to maintain expensive equipment and a horse, and with that he would have to practice fighting and teach others how to fight as he got older.
So to do that one would needed a great deal of wealth to so. They were supported by the work and labor of his people. This saw smaller groups pockets of land owners, Knights would own a parcel of land and give it out to their vassals, lords would have given land to their Knights and Kings would have given land to their lords.
It was thanks to the Crusades that the “feudal warfare” was on the decline; it preoccupied the feudal armies of the different lords, and kings and had them focus on turning east wards to eclaim the “holy land”. Lastly one of the major reasons for the decline of “feudal warfare” was when rich nobles were allowed to pay for soldiers rather than to fight themselves. Life changed and Mercenaries were hired from all over Europe.
The Mercenaries had few allegiances, except to money, and these paid fighting men were feared throughout Europe. The threat of the Mercenaries led on to the employment of professional, and this would see the downfall of the standing armies of the feudal age.