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I have dealt with the Norman army and tried to analyse the financial administration in time of war.
It now remains to bring together some evidence which illustrates the general aspects of warfare in the end of the twelfth century and the policy pursued by the combatants with regard to booty, prisoners of war and the like.
It is impossible to estimate the waste products of these wars, the hardships which it was no one's business to redress, the vast domain of suffering where no principle save that of cruelty was observed. To some extent equity and charity were more active in time of war. The payment of dues was officially remitted on lands wasted in war, preparations were made for the reception of fugitives from threatened towns, compensation was sometimes secured for the destruction of ecclesiastical property,3 and alms were more freely given to the poor. But such measures as these offered no relief to the man who was forced, by the hardness of the times, to sell his lands or to leave the country. 5 They could not cope with the widespread effects of famine or with the passions of mercenary troops. We can only guess at the amount of beggary, prostitution and starvation produced by feudal warfare.
1. e.9., Rot. Scacc., i, 155, 156, 235, 237. 2. e.g., Dieppe Rot. Pat., 2b.
3. Round, Calendar of Documents preserved in France, p. 18, no. 67; Archbishop Walter's letter in Diceto, ii, 145. Cf. English Historical Review, xxvii, 114.
4. e.g., Rot. de Liberate, 57 : “Liberate de thesauro nostro sine dilatione Laurentio de Dunning (i.e., of the Donjon) £510. 9s. 104d. sterling, pro pacatione quam faciet pro nobis pauperibus gentibus per preceptum nostrum pro cibo nostro.” The date is Alençon, 11th August, 1203 : when John was besieging Alençon during his last brief campaign.
5. Cf. the charter of Geoffrey of la Bretêche (1200) quoted by Delisle from the records of Lire in his Etudes sur la condition de la classe agricole, p. 197; and the case of the person who lost his serjeanty by going into France in time of war “p inopiam” (Querimoniae Normannorum, nos. 460, 467).
All we can know with certainty is that those who suffered must have been very numerous. 1
On the other hand feudal warfare was probably, by its very nature, less horrible than the warfare of later centuries, when society had lost its military character and was as yet unprotected by international conventions. It is impossible to believe that Normandy or Touraine suffered in John's reign as France suffered during the Hundred Years' War, or Germany before the peace of Westphalia. In spite of many changes feudal society at the end of the twelfth century was regulated by principles which applied to war no less than to peace. Law in a feudal society was inseparable from force, but was not obscured by it: they were combined in the theory of contract which informed all feudal relations and which was historically connected with the Germanic principle that every limb had its value, and almost every blow its price. Force was never absent, yet was never uncontrolled. In civil procedure we find the elements of war, such as the duel, and the hue and cry; and in war we find constant applications of legal theory. War was a great lawsuit. The truce
a was very like an essoin, a treaty was drawn up on the lines of a final concord, the hostage was a surety, service in the field was the counterpart of suit of court. The closeness of the analogy between the field of battle and the law court is seen in the judicial combat. Trial by battle was a possible incident in all negotiations.2 In 1188 Henry II and Philip agreed to submit their differences to the test of a combat of champions chosen by each side, and the preliminary arrangements were actually made.3 Philip made a similar suggestion to Richard some years
1. See especially Luchaire, La Société française au temps de Philippe Auguste (1909). Cf. English Historical Review, xxi, 636-7.
2. See the interesting discussion in Lea, Superstition and Force (ed. 1870), pp. 155 seqq.; also Holdsworth, History of English Law, i, 140.
3. Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 87-90.
later. 1 The obvious impossibility of securing guarantees that the issue would be regarded as a verdict no doubt prevented the pursuit of these proposals; the Marshal is said to have pointed out to King Henry in 1188 that, in order to secure fair play, the combat would have to be waged in the court of the emperor or of some other neutral power, such as the king of Aragon or of Navarre. But it seems to have been regarded as a natural and possible form of solution.
The practices of war and peace touched each other too closely to prevent the extension of common principles even in details. The disposition of prisoners and booty was exactly parallel to the disposition of wreckage. From a wreck the king took gold and silver, silk, chargers and hawks and other precious things; 3 similarly knights and other captives of war and booty belonged to him, unless he surrendered his claim, yet in both cases the captor was recognised to have an equitable right to a share.
Another point of contact between the courts and war was the curiously strict observance of the lex talionis which prevailed between combatants. A grim letter sent by John to Hubert de Burgh in February, 1203, illustrates the extent to which this strange passion for law could be felt. Hubert is ordered to exchange a prisoner in his
1. Diceto, ii, 121 (1194). On the exchequer roll for 1198 (Rot. Scacc., ii, 481) there is a reference to the "campiones Regis, qui fuerunt ducti in insulam de Andele contra regem Francie.”
2. There is a Biblical precedent (2 Samuel, ii, 12-16) and several later instances. It should be remembered that questions of right between the king of France and the Angevin kings were settled by legal process e.g., the inquisition into the rights of Saint Martin of Tours and the count of Anjou in 1190 (Teulet, Layettes, i, 158–162, no. 371). 3. Statuta et Consuetudines, c. lxvii (Tardif, I, i, 62).
4. Cf. John's letter of February 7th, 1203, to the constable of Radepont, Rot. Pat., 24b : “concessimus Radulpho Archer quicquid ipse lucrari poterit in Marchia super inimicos nostros et quod idem habeat, salvis nobis militibus et illis qua ad nos pertinent." See also Guillaume le Maréchal, iii, 149, where the Marshal surrenders and receives again as a gift a noble prisoner.
keeping for Ferrand the engineer: “If Ferrand be whole, let Peter be delivered whole also; but if Ferrand be lacking in any limb, Peter must first be deprived of the same limb (eodem modo demenbratus) and then delivered in exchange.” 1
In such a case as this the lex talionis was compatible with an appreciation of the market value of the prisoner. Much evidence might be adduced to show how by means of booty and the exchange or ransom of prisoners, war was to a certain extent made to pay for itself. But the desire for an exact revenge might easily become merely destructive. William the Breton, in a passage of his Philippid, relates that Richard, angered by the news that a body of Welsh mercenaries had been destroyed by the French,3 threw three prisoners from the rock of Andeli and blinded fifteen others whom he sent under the guidance of a oneeyed companion, to the French king; whereupon Philip, in reply to this rough jest, inflicted the same punishment upon exactly the same number of his prisoners: three were cast from a high cliff, and fifteen were deprived of their sight, and, accompanied by the wife of one of their number, were sent to Richard. The reader may justly
1. Rot. Pat., 25. On the other hand some small compensation was occasionally granted for the loss of a limb in the king's service; e.g., Rot. de Liberate, 32 : “mandatum est G. filio Petri quod faciat habere Alano Walensi qui pugnum suum perdidit in servicio domini Regis jd. de redditu primum qui liberabitur, et interim eum perhendinare faciat in aliqua abbatia,” and the following entry.
2. e.g., Rot. Scacc., ii, 309. The war horse was especially valuable, as the life of the Marshal shows. The chroniclers refer (e.g., Ann. Monastici, ii, 70) to the 200 destriers captured in the fight at the bridge of Gisors in 1198, “de quibus septies viginti cooperti erant ferro."
3. Philippid, lib. v, 11. 300-328 (ed. Delaborde, i, 136, 137). A comparison of this passage with Diceto, ii, 163; Howden, iv, 53 ; Annales Cambriae, p. 61; and the Brut y Tywysogion, p. 352, shows that William is really thinking of the great Welsh disaster at Pain's castle in Radnor in the same year. (See, on this massacre, Lloyd, History of Wales, ii, 586). He was not, in 1198, with Philip, and probably confused one story with another.
feel that, with this story, we have reached a reductio ad absurdum of the parallel between the principles of law and warfare.
Further examination, however, of the relations between captor and prisoner, is of some interest and importance. A wealthy or powerful prisoner was much more than a soldier out of action, or a source of wealth to the captor. He represented political dignity and power; his capture interfered with a body of relations between his kinsmen and vassals and himself which were public in their nature. When King John captured Arthur's company at Mirebeau he wiped out the political influence of half a province. Hence much importance was attached to the safe cu of prisoners, and elaborate precautions were taken against their escape, and even against their communication with their friends outside. For example, Hugh of Lusignan, after being captured at Mirebeau, was confined at Caen under the strictest regulations. The keep (turris) was cleared of all other prisoners, and Hugh, heavily ironed, was placed under the guardianship of Hugh Nevill, who superseded the castellan for this purpose. Hugh's brother, Geoffrey of Lusignan, was treated in the same way at Falaise. Their communications with friends were regulated with the most minute care. The less important prisoners taken at Mirebeau were, on the contrary, massed together in England at Corfe, where they were sufficiently free and sufficiently numerous to conspire and for a short time to capture the keep. But if the Margam annalist is correct in saying that twenty-two of them were starved to death, they paid dearly for their adventure.
1. Hugh Nevill, a friend of Richard's, (Matthew Paris, Chron. Majora, iii, 71) had been responsible for the custody of the bishop of Beauvais at Rouen (Rot. Scacc., ii, 301; Howden, iv, 40, 41) and, along with Thomas, a clerk of the royal chamber, was entrusted with most of the business connected with the prisoners of Mirebeau.
2. Rot. Pat., 16 seqq.