The Soldier in Later Medieval England

It has been argued that standing armies and professional soldiers were a phenomenon of the early modern state. There can be no doubt, however, that the period from 1369 to 1453 witnessed hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the pay of the crown. Although these dates themselves relate to the beginning and end of important phases in the war with France commonly known as the Hundred Years War, soldiers were dispatched for campaign and garrison service not only across the Channel, but also in the Iberian Peninsular, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. This vast amount of nominal data gives us the unparalleled opportunity for medieval England to study the soldier as an individual and as a type, and to debate whether we can speak of a professional soldiery over this period. The uniqueness of this project is the length of the period to be covered, since it will permit a truly longitudinal survey to be undertaken. We will be able to identify continuities, incremental and slow modifications and more abrupt and revolutionary changes. The project is also distinctive in its comprehensive geographical coverage. The project will produce an online searchable database listing soldiers involved in English armies and garrison service during the period.

Principal investigator
Professor Adrian Bell
Principal project staff
Professor Anne Curry; Dr Adrian Bell
Start date
Friday, September 1, 2006
Completion date
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Source material
Muster and Retinue rolls for Expeditionary armies and Garrisons from the National Archives (TNA) E 101 series (Exchequer Accounts Various) Letters of protection and appointments of attorney from TNA C 76 series (Treaty Rolls) Muster and Retinue rolls for Garrisons in Normandy from the British Library (UK), Bibliothèque Nationale, Archives Nationales and Archives Départementales (France).

Adrian R. Bell, Adam Chapman, Anne Curry, Andy King and David Simpkin, 'What did you do in the Hundred Years War, Daddy? The Soldier in Later Medieval England', The Historian: The Magazine of the Historical Association, (Number 96, Winter 2007), pp.6-13.