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Battle of the Ouche, 500

Battle of the Ouche, 500


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Battle of the Ouche, 500

The battle of the Ouche (500 AD) was a victory won by Clovis, king of the Franks, during an otherwise unsuccessful intervention in a Burgundian family dispute.

By around 500 AD Clovis ruled a large part of northern Gaul. He had inherited a smaller kingdom based in Flanders and had successfully expanded into the area north of the Loire, and may also have conquered the Alemanni. The Burgundians were now one of his southern neighbours, with a kingdom based on the Rhone (although without access to the sea).

The Burgundians didn't have a single monarch during this period. King Gundowech (or Gondioc) had ruled until his death in 473. He was followed by his brother Chilperic I, but also left four sons - Gundobar (or Gundobad), Godegesil, Chilperic II and Godomar - who appear to have shared power with Chilperic I. Their uncle was Ricimer, one of the last men to hold real power in the Western Roman Emperor. Gundobar had briefly succeeded to Ricimer's position, but left the Roman court in 473 or 474 to return home. According to Gregory of Tours Gundobar promptly killed two of his brothers (Godomar and Chilperic II), and so after the death of Chilperic I in 480 only had to share power with Godegesil.

Clovis had a direct connection to the Burgundian royal family. His wife Clotilde was the daughter of Chilperic II, and so if Gregory's story is correct will have had little love for Gundobar. Although Gregory of Tours doesn't provide a date for this conflict the chronicle of Marius Aventicensis (written around 581) dates the battle to 500 AD.

By 500 Gundobar and Godegesil were at war with each other. Perhaps inevitably one of the brothers turned to their powerful neighbour Clovis for aid - in this case Godegesil, who promised to pay an annual tribute if Clovis helped him either kill his brother in battle or expel him from Burgundy.

Clovis accepted this offer and led his army into Burgundy. Gundobar was unaware of his brother's role in this, and sent a message to him suggesting that they should unite against the Frankish invader. Godegesil promised to come to his aid, but when the three armies came together on the River Ouche, Godegesil revealed his true colours and sided with Clovis. The allies crushed Gundobar's army, but Gundobar himself escaped and fled south to Avignon.

In the aftermath of this battle Godegesil promised to give Clovis part of the kingdom, and then left to enter Vienne in triumph. This would prove to be a fatal mistake. Clovis pursued Gundobar and besieged Avignon. Godegesil would have been wiser to accompany Clovis. Avignon held out against Clovis, who didn't have a siege train. One of Gundobar's advisors pretended to desert him, and convinced Clovis to accept an annual tribute in return for leaving Gundobar as joint king of the Burgundians. Once Clovis was gone Gundobar turned on his brother and besieged him at Vienne (c.500-501). The city fell and Godegesil was killed. Gundobar and Clovis appear to have been reconciled at some point after this, and the Burgundians probably supported Clovis during his later war against the Visigoths.


Mexico City marks 500 years since conquest battle began

MEXICO CITY — There are two ways of remembering the Spanish siege of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital now known as Mexico City: as the painful birth of modern Mexico, or the start of centuries of virtual enslavement.

The world-changing battle started on May 22, 1521, and lasted for months until the city finally fell to the conquistadores on Aug. 13. It was one of the few times an organized Indigenous army under local command fought European colonizers to a standstill for months, and the final defeat helped set the template for much of the conquest and colonization that came afterward.

“The fall of Tenochtitlan opened the modern history of the West,” said historian Salvador Rueda, director of the city’s Chapultepec Museum.

One way of remembering the event is symbolized by a plaque that stands in the city’s “Plaza of Three Cultures” honoring Indigenous Mexico, Spanish colonialism and the “modern” mixed-race Mexico that resulted from the conquest.

The three cultures are represented by three buildings: a ruined Aztec temple, a Spanish colonial church built atop the ruins and a modern government office building constructed in the 1960s. “It was neither a triumph nor a defeat. It was the painful birth of the Mestizo (mixed-race) Mexico today,” the plaque reads.

That sentiment, preached by the government since the 1920s — that Mexico is a non-racial, non-racist, unified nation where everyone is mixed-race, bearing the blood of both conquerors and conquered — has aged about as well as the 1960s office building.

It is largely roped off because shards of its marble facing regularly shear off and come crashing to the ground, and Indigenous or dark-skinned Mexicans continue to face discrimination by their lighter-skinned countrymen.

A much more enduring and perhaps accurate message is found a few blocks away on the wall of the tiny church of Tequipeuhcan, a place whose very name in the Aztec’s Nahuatl language sums it all up.

“Tequipeuhcan: ‘The place where slavery began.’ Here the Emperor Cuauhtemotzin was taken prisoner on the afternoon of Aug. 13, 1521,” reads the plaque on the church wall.

Mexico City’s current mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, put it this way: “The fall of México-Tenochtitlán started a tale of epidemics, abuses and 300 years of colonial rule in Mexico.”

That was to become the rule throughout the hemisphere over the next three centuries. Colonizers stole the land from indigenous peoples and made them work it, extracting the wealth for the benefit of the colonizers.

“The Spaniards seemed so convinced this model worked well that (Cortés’ lieutenant Pedro) de Alvarado was set to go launch an invasion of China from the port of Acapulco when he got tied up in another battle in west Mexico and died,” said David M. Carballo, professor of archaeology, anthropology, and Latin American studies at Boston University and author of the book “Collision of Worlds.”

He said the conquest of Mexico “truly made the world globalized, as it connected the transatlantic to transpacific world and all the habited continents. That kicked off what we now call globalization.”

Cortés and his 900 Spaniards — plus thousands of allies from Indigenous groups oppressed by the Aztecs — started the siege on May 22, 1521. They had entered Mexico City in 1520, but had been chased out with great losses a few months later, leaving most of their plundered gold behind.

But the Spaniards were uniquely prepared for a war of conquest. They had spent much of the preceding seven centuries fighting wars to reconquer Spain from the Moors. Amazingly, they were even able to bring their experience with naval warfare in the Mediterranean to bear in the battle for the Aztec capital, located in a high-mountain valley more than 7,000 feet above sea level and hundreds of miles from the sea.

Tenochtitlan was completely surrounded by a shallow lake crossed by narrow causeways, so the Spaniards built attack ships known as bergantines — something akin to floating battle platforms — to fight the Aztecs in their canoes.

It bogged down into a brutal, monthslong series of battles for control of the elevated earthen causeways that led into the city.

The campaign was never a predetermined defeat for the Aztecs. They scored a number of victories, took scores of Spaniards prisoner and even used captured Spanish weapons against the conquistadores.

At one point they took about 60 captured Spaniards and sacrificed them one by one — probably by tearing their still-beating hearts from their chests — on battlements or temple platforms in full view of the rest of the Spanish. Even the conquistadores admitted the effect was terrifying.

But the Spaniards were able to draw on their experience of sieges during the recently concluded Christian Reconquista of Muslim Spain. They cut off supplies of fresh water and food for the city. Just as importantly, the bulk of their troops were Indigenous allies tired of paying tribute under Aztec domination.

The most powerful weapon in their arsenal was not their horses, dogs of war or primitive muskets. It was not even the deceit they used to capture the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma — who died in 1520 — or later, the Inca Emperor Atahualpa. The Europeans’ most effective weapon was smallpox.

During Cortés’ brief stay in Mexico City in 1520, the Aztecs had begun to be infected with smallpox, purportedly carried by an African slave the Spaniards had brought with them.

Carlo Viesca, a medical historian at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, said at least 150,000 of the city’s 300,000 inhabitants probably died before the Spaniards were able to reenter the city, and when they did, he quoted one Spaniard as saying, “We were walking on corpses.”

In the end, Viesca says, Cuauhtemoc — the last Aztec emperor — “had few troops with the strength left to fight.”

Medical anthropologist Sandra Guevara noted that smallpox assumed a form so virulent among Indians not previously exposed to it — and with no immunological defenses against it — that even those who survived were probably blinded or developed gangrene in their feet, noses and mouths.

By the time the city fell, there were so many corpses the Spaniards couldn’t occupy the city fully for months. The only way to get rid of the stench was to demolish the Aztec houses to bury the dead in the rubble.

Cuitláhuac, a respected leader who succeeded Moctezuma and preceded Cuauhtemoc, died of smallpox in late 1520, before the siege began.

“If Cuitláhuac had not died, the history of Mexico would have been different,” Guevara said.

Emperor Cuauhtemoc — Cuauhtemotzin to the Aztecs — took over and fought on and skillfully led the Aztec resistance in the 1521 siege.

But in August, chased to the eastern edge of the city, he either surrendered or was captured. He was tortured, because the Spanish wanted to find the gold they had briefly looted but had to abandon in 1520. Stoic to the end, Cuauhtémoc purportedly handed the Spaniards a dagger and asked them to kill him.

He remains a figure so tragic yet revered that Mexicans have been encouraged for centuries to repeat his futile self-sacrifice. When six lightly armed army cadets were surrounded by U.S. troops at a hilltop military academy in Mexico City during the 1847 invasion, rather than surrender, they reportedly flung themselves to their deaths from the parapets. They too remain national heroes.

The failed battle to defend Tenochtitlan set the template for the ultimate futility of indigenous groups trying to fight Europeans with huge standing armies, fixed positions and sieges. Apart from some fights between Spanish and Inca armies during Francisco Pizarro’s 1536 conquest of Peru, Indigenous resistance in the Americas — and much of the world — would largely be reduced to guerrilla tactics, periodic raids and retreats into remote or difficult-to-access areas.

Some of the last armed Indigenous resistance — both in Mexico and the United States — would not be defeated until the early 1900s.


A.D. 500&ndash900

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, WITH ITS WIDE GEOGRAPHICAL extent, sophisticated political and military organization, and stately monuments, made a powerful impression on generations of later historians, who were correspondingly appalled by its collapse. The immediate cause seemed obvious. &ldquoThe Roman world,&rdquo wrote Gibbon, &ldquowas overwhelmed by a deluge of barbarians.&rdquo 1 Italy, Gaul, Spain, Britain were overrun by assorted Goths, Huns, Vandals, Franks, Burgundians, Lombards, and Anglo-Saxons, driven west and south by forces that are still unexplained. The Western Roman Empire, long sovereign over the Mediterranean basin, was shattered into fragments governed by these &ldquobarbarians.&rdquo Several generations of scholars debated the sources of the weakness that permitted the calamity. But in the twentieth century, largely owing to the pioneering work of Belgian scholar Henri Pirenne (1862&ndash1935), historians began to shift the sense of their question. Instead of asking what caused the fall of Rome, they began to ask, What exactly wasthe fall of Rome?

Primarily, the fall of Rome was a political event, the disappearance, or radical alteration, of a governmental system. Even in the political sphere it was limited geographically to the western half of the Roman Empire, leaving the eastern (Byzantine) half, with its capital of Constantinople, to survive another thousand years. The fall was also limited in scope, the new local rulers retaining much of the Roman administrative apparatus. Pirenne employed the metaphor of an ancient palazzo that was not razed but subdivided into apartments. Not until the rise of the Arab empire in the seventh century, Pirenne believed, did the classical world collapse, commerce and urban life dwindle, and the Roman administrative framework disappear. 2 The Pirenne thesis stirred controversy and revision, ending with a consensus among scholars, aided by recent archaeology, to the effect that a general social and economic decline took place, later than historians had previously believed, but before the Arabs arrived on the scene.

What actually fell in the &ldquofall of Rome&rdquo? In the realm of technology, very little. Lynn White went so far as to assert that there was &ldquono evidence of a break in the continuity of technological development following the decline of the Western Roman Empire.&rdquo 3 In some regions, certain Roman craft skills were lost for a time. The potter&rsquos wheel disappeared from Britain, but when it returned from continental Europe in the ninth century, it had been improved by the kick wheel, which allowed the potter to use both hands to manipulate the workpiece. 4 Roman mining operations contracted under the late Empire, and their scale was not again reached until at least the central Middle Ages, but techniques were not lost, and by the eighth century new mining regions in central and eastern Europe were beginning to open up. Along with mining, metallurgy went into a late Roman decline but by the ninth century showed an upward trend. 5 Similarly, Roman irrigation works in Spain and Africa were lost through neglect in the wake of invasion and war.

Lynn White made his case a little too strongly when he asserted, &ldquoIn technology, at least, the Dark Ages mark a steady and uninterrupted advance over the Roman Empire.&rdquo 6 Nevertheless, early medieval technical innovations had an unquestionable impact, helping to bring about Europe&rsquos first great transformation. Most of the innovations applied to agriculture, and most were borrowed. In the words of Carlo Cipolla, &ldquoWhat the Europeans showed from the sixth to the eleventh centuries was not so much inventive ingenuity as a remarkable capacity for assimilation. They knew how to take good ideas where they found them and how to apply them on a large scale to productive activity.&rdquo 7

The post-Roman world was divided geographically not only between Byzantine East and barbarian West but even more meaningfully between rich South and poor North. The Mediterranean littoral, though the scene of a good deal of political and military turbulence, remained in the late fifth century populous and productive, dotted with cities, towns, and landed estates. To the north, also, little was changed&mdasha sparse population dwelling in temporary farming settlements, few cities worth the name, much empty forest, heath, and swamp. The population density of Gaul in the sixth century has been estimated at 5.5 per square kilometer, that of Germany and Britain at 2.2 and 2.0 respectively. The scattered inhabitants of these cold lands evidently did not live well their skeletons indicate malnutrition. Famine, plague, and typhus were probably even more endemic here than in the South. 8 Yet this northern region had important natural assets: abundant forests, fast-growing vegetation, accessible metal ores, and numerous rivers and streams, many swift flowing and ice free, with potential beyond transportation and communication. Like the steady winds in other regions of the North, they promised energy sources of immense value. &ldquoThey were to the people of the time what coal, oil, and uranium are to an industrialized society&rdquo (Carlo Cipolla). 9

While the round-number dates of A.D. 500 to 1500 are now widely accepted for the whole period of the Middle Ages, divisions within the era remain arbitrary. As a terminal date for the early part of the period, the year 900 may be satisfactory, bearing in mind that nothing in particular transpired that year, any more than in the commencement year of 500. As it happens, however, each of the four centuries thus encompassed is marked by its own special catalog of events.

Sixth century, A.D. 500&ndash600: the barbarian century, with the last of the Great Migrations, the establishment of the barbarian kingdoms, and the counteroffensive against the Goths by the Eastern (Byzantine) Roman Empire that turned Italy into a battlefield. &ldquoAt the end of the sixth century, Europe was a profoundly uncivilized place,&rdquo Georges Duby observes. 10 There is also reason to believe that the population of the Mediterranean West declined through this century and into the next.

Seventh century, A.D. 600&ndash700: the Muslim century, with the explosion of Islam in North Africa and the Near East. By the end of the century, all the southern regions of the old Roman Empire, plus Persia, were Muslim. Almost overnight a major new power thus appeared, positioned geographically between Europe and Asia-Africa.

Eighth century, A.D. 700&ndash800: the Carolingian century. The first great Carolingian, Charles Martel, halted the Islamic advance into Europe at the battle of Poitiers (or Tours) his grandson Charlemagne founded a short-lived ersatz Roman Empire and promoted the scholarly and artistic revival known as the Carolingian renaissance.

Ninth century, A.D. 800&ndash900: the Viking century, marked by raiding and pillaging of towns and monasteries of western Europe by Scandinavian pirates. Muslim raiders did the same for southern Europe, where the Mediterranean was turned into &ldquoa no-man&rsquos land between Christian and Muslim naval forces&rdquo (Richard Unger). 11

Most of the violent events that formed the traditional history of the early Middle Ages were, however, essentially superficial. The basic wealth of a peasant economy is land, and land is immune from theft and pillage. Over the four centuries of the early Middle Ages, the value of European land was substantially enhanced by the operation of a demographic phenomenon of much larger effect than all the marauding and pillaging. This was the northward expansion of the population. By the time of Charlemagne, as Pirenne pointed out, the center of gravity of Western civilization had shifted from the Mediterranean to the plains of northern Europe. Coincidentally, and probably somewhat causally, a major meteorological change had occurred. The southward drift of the glacial front that commenced in the fifth century reversed itself in the middle of the eighth. As the frost retreated, northern Europe became more hospitable to agriculture. 12 Scanty data indicate yields per acre well below what the best farmlands of the ancient world produced, 13 but by the seventh century the farming communities of Britain, Gaul, the Low Countries, and Germany were harvesting surpluses sufficient to support a modest but definite population increase.

There was even a little urban growth. In the seventh and eighth centuries, specialized trading settlements called &ldquoemporia&rdquo or &ldquogateway communities&rdquo sprang up near the North Sea and Channel coasts as the Frankish (Merovingian and Carolingian) kings exchanged goods with Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian chieftains in treaty arrangements called &ldquotrade partnerships.&rdquo The more advanced Frankish rulers offered prestigious commodities such as wines, glassware, and wheel-thrown pottery in return for raw materials like wool and hides, collected as taxes from the chieftains&rsquo subjects. By the mid-eighth century emporia such as Hamwih (later Southampton) and Ipswich, in East Anglia, laid out in a grid pattern of workshops, stalls, and storehouses, were among the largest towns in England. 14 London at the time was a &ldquobeach-market&rdquo (ripa emptoralis), serving mostly local traders, farmers, and fishermen, who sold their wares directly from their boats without benefit of docks, shops, warehouses, or middlemen. 15 Across the channel, Dorestad, base of the Frisian traders, and Quentovic, south of Boulogne, flourished until their decline in the ninth century, with the breakup of the Carolingian Empire. 16

Meanwhile two widespread, technologically related developments changed the face of Europe: a new form of agricultural organization, equipped with a new type of plow and the rise of a new military caste, composed of armored horsemen, who became for a considerable time the ruling European elite.

A Revolution in Agriculture

The old notion that agriculture stood still or regressed for several centuries in the Middle Ages has long been exploded. Instead, two separate revolutions in the organization of agricultural work took place, one in the early Middle Ages, the other, to be described in chapter 5, in the central Middle Ages.

The first revolution, reinforced by the introduction of two tools that may also be called revolutionary, brought about the disappearance of the old Roman latifundium, slave manned and market oriented. In its place, by the eighth century, stood the estate, equally large but based on a different principle of exploitation: farm labor performed by tenants who divided their time between the lord&rsquos land and their own small holdings. Those who were classed as unfree (eventually called &ldquoserfs,&rdquo or in England &ldquovilleins&rdquo) were subject to a varying list of obligations and liabilities not imposed on free tenants. Yet the serfs as well as their free neighbors had a recognized (in the medieval vocabulary a &ldquocustomary&rdquo) right to the use of their land, a right, moreover, that was inheritable. Alongside serfdom, slavery persisted but as a marginal and declining institution. 17

Instead of profit in the marketplace, the new agriculture sought local self-sufficiency and, though falling short of complete success, created a highly decentralized rural landscape. At first its technology was somewhat retrogressive, as such Roman skills and practices as the grafting of fruit trees and application of lime for fertilizer slipped into disuse in many regions. Roman agricultural treatises were neglected and no new ones written. The techniques of cereal-crop production, the main form of agriculture, remained for a time unchanged.

But beginning in the sixth century, a radical improvement in farming&rsquos most basic tool was introduced. Pliny had described secondhand a heavy plow, mounted on wheels and drawn by several oxen, reported in use in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. Its diffusion must have been limited in effect, it waited in the wings for five centuries before appearing in numbers sufficient to attract notice, first in the Slavic lands, then in the Po valley, and in the early eighth century in the Rhineland. Sometimes it was mounted on wheels, sometimes not the main function of the wheels was to allow adjustment of the plowshare to the depth of furrow.

An improved harness for harnessing in tandem (one animal behind the other) facilitated the use of multiple-ox teams to pull the heavy plow in attacking new ground. The combination of plow and team supplied the technological key to the prodigious task of clearing the forestland of fertile northwest Europe. Other new or little-used implements came into wide service: the harrow, which by crumbling the clods after plowing saved laborious cross-plowing the scythe, rarely employed by the Romans, now needed to cut hay to feed the numerous oxen and the pitchfork, to handle the hay. When Charlemagne proposed a new nomenclature for the calendar, he renamed July &ldquoHaying Month.&rdquo 18

Light plow, without coulter or mouldboard, as seen in the Utrecht Psalter (c. 830). [British Library, Harley Ms. 603, f. 54v.]

Toward the end of the period, an innovation as important for agriculture as the heavy plow made its appearance in Europe: the rigid, padded horse collar, long known in Asia, which converted the horse for the first time into an efficient draft animal. Developed back in Roman times, probably by the horse-dependent nomads of the central Asian steppes, the horse collar progressed westward in a course that has been traced by scholars through linguistic and iconographic clues. The first pictorial evidence of its appearance in Europe occurs in an illumination of the Trier Apocalypse (c. 800), which shows a pair of horses pulling an open carriage or wagon. The earliest text reference&mdashto a horse-drawn plow&mdashis from late-ninth-century Norway. 19

Heavy plow, with coulter and mouldboard, drawn by four oxen. From the fourteenth-century Luttrell Psalter. [British Library, Ms. Add. 42130, f. 170.]

The new device replaced the old throat-and-girth harness which choked the horse when the animal pulled against it. The padded collar, instead of bearing on the trachea, exerted its pressure on the sternum, freeing the respiratory channel and at least tripling the weight a horse could pull. Another practical harness, the breast strap, arrived from China at about the same time but was never widely used in the West. 20

Faster-gaited and longer-working than the ox, the horse proved under most conditions a superior plow animal and a far better transport beast. The nailed iron horseshoe, also arriving from Asia in the ninth or tenth century, further improved his quality and durability on the farm and on the road. The first pictorial representation of a horse pulling an agricultural implement&mdasha harrow&mdashoccurs in the Bayeux Tapestry of circa 1080 by that time the sight was doubtless common. 21

Yet the ox, the age-old &ldquoengine of the peasant,&rdquo did not retire from the scene. Slow moving but very strong, he had the advantage over the horse in difficult ground, as in first-time plowing of newly cleared land. He was cheaper to feed and in England enjoyed the added appeal of being edible. Pope Gregory III in 732 barred horse meat from the Christian table, an injunction that for unknown reasons was respected only in England. On the Continent, old plow horses were eaten with as much relish as old oxen. 22

The three main forms of horse harness: (a) throat-and-girth (Western antiquity) (b) breast strap (ancient and early medieval China) and (c) padded horse collar (late medieval China and medieval Europe). [From Joseph Needham, Science and Civilization in China, Cambridge University Press.]

As the new plow, pulled by whichever traction animal, proved its ability to cultivate the rich, heavy soils of northwest Europe, the region&rsquos forest, moor, and swamp were attacked with ax and spade. Even the sea was made to contribute new land for cultivation. The inhabitants of the low-lying Netherlands coast built dikes to protect themselves from storms and abnormally high tides gradually the deposits of silt that collected became new dry land at normal high tide. The Netherlanders appropriated it by building new dikes farther out, leading them into a history of hydraulic engineering destined to be unparalleled in the world.

Playing a conspicuous role in the expansion northward were the monks of the Benedictine Order, founded in Italy by St. Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century. St. Benedict&rsquos Rule prescribed labor as both a material and a spiritual benefit: &ldquoWhen they live by the labor of their hands, as our fathers and the apostles did, then they are truly monks.&rdquo 23 Besides their enthusiasm for clearing land and draining swamp, the Benedictines developed strains of fruit that could prosper in the cold northern climate, wearing a symbolic pruning hook on their belts as they revived the old grafting skills and horticultural arts of the Romans. The need for sacramental wine supplied a stimulus to northern viticulture, which quickly proved commercially viable.

The Benedictines also contributed to the spread of the water mill. &ldquoThe monastery,&rdquo declared the Rule, &ldquoought if possible to be so constituted that all things necessary, such as water, a mill, a garden, and the various crafts might be contained within it.&rdquo 24 Both city and country followed the Benedictine lead in exploiting fast-flowing year-round streams. Gregory of Tours (538&ndash594) described several mills, including one at Dijon, where the river Ouche &ldquoturns the millwheels round at wondrous speed outside the gate,&rdquo 25 and another on the Indre, constructed by Ursus, abbot of Loches, &ldquomade&hellipwith wooden stakes packed with large stones and sluice-gates to control the flow of water into a channel in which the mill-wheel turned.&rdquo 26

The law code issued by Frankish king Clovis in about 511 imposed fines for stealing grain or iron tools from another man&rsquos mill or breaking into his mill enclosure. 27 That of Lombard king Rothair, promulgated in 643, stipulated fines for burning another man&rsquos mill, breaking his dam, or building a mill on a neighbor&rsquos part of the riverbank. 28 By the time of Charlemagne, mills were important enough to be taxed in the imperial Capitulare de villis (800). 29

Built on many of the great estates of the ninth century, water mills represented a substantial investment but produced lucrative profits in the form of &ldquomulture,&rdquo a percentage of the peasants&rsquo grain or flour exacted at the mill. 30 On one manor of the abbey of St.-Germain-des-Prés, millers delivered as much grain in multure from the peasants every year as the lord&rsquos own fields produced. The polyptych (estate survey) of the abbey, dated 801&ndash820, lists no fewer than fifty-nine mills, including eight new and two recently renovated. 31

Hardly anything is known about the configuration of these early medieval mills. The horizontal wheel, needing no gearing, was easy to build and repair, and consequently popular. Wealthy lords, however, may have built the more powerful and efficient vertical wheels. 32

By the tenth century, the water mill had achieved a status and value far beyond what it had possessed under the Roman Empire. It made a significant contribution to the agricultural revolution wrought by the horse harness, the heavy plow, and the self-contained tenant-farmed estate.

Cloth Making: Women&rsquos Work

Agriculture developed a new social and economic function in the early Middle Ages while improving its technical equipment cloth making retained its equipment while undergoing modest alterations in function. As in Roman times, women dominated manufacture. Their tasks, as indicated by a statute of 789, included not only spinning and weaving but shearing sheep, crushing flax, combing wool, and cutting and sewing garments. 33

Free women and serfs worked in their homes, slave women in the workshops (gynaecea) of the great estates. Almost every estate of any importance had a gynaeceum. Gregory of Tours mentions &ldquothe women who worked in the spinning and weaving room&rdquo of the royal manor of Marlenheim. 34 At the council of Nantes in 660, the prelates chided aristocratic women for attending public assemblies and &ldquousurping senatorial authority&rdquo when they &ldquoought to be sitting among their girls of the cloth shop and ought to be talking about their wool processing and their textile labors.&rdquo 35 Several Germanic law codes mention women&rsquos workshops, while the Carolingian Capitulare de villis prescribed that women in the gynaeceum should be supplied with &ldquolinen, wool, woad, red dye, madder, carding implements, combs, soap, oil, containers, and other small things that are needed there.&rdquo 36

The workshops were sometimes located in sunken huts, whose earthen floors were excavated two or three feet below ground level, the interiors lighted by an opening in the roof. Alternatively, a two-story building provided sleeping quarters in the upper floor. If the cloth was to be dyed, the shop included a hearth to heat water. In summer the looms might be set up outdoors in open, roofed structures or under canopies. 37

As in Roman times, linen and wool remained the principal textiles. The manufacture of cotton cloth, a Roman luxury import, was carried by the Arab conquest to Spain, Sicily, and southern Italy as early as the tenth century, but it was not mastered by Christian Europe until the twelfth. Silk, China&rsquos most celebrated export, became the object of a historic coup of industrial espionage in the sixth century. Two Greek monks journeying to China are said to have secreted silkworm cocoons in their staffs and returned to Constantinople to launch the Byzantine silk industry. The story, as Joseph Needham has pointed out, leaves puzzling questions: presented with the cocoons, how did the Byzantine textile workers acquire the techniques of unreeling and processing the fibers? 38 Evidently the information was somehow made available, for the Byzantine court soon had its own silk-weaving establishment, in addition to privately owned workshops. Silk manufacture, however, did not penetrate western Europe until the eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Wool cloth, indispensable in the cold climate of newly developed northern Europe, retained its dominant position among textiles, as the center of gravity of the industry moved northward to northern France and the Low Countries. When Harun-al-Rashid, the caliph of the Thousand and One Nights, sent Charlemagne gifts that included &ldquomany precious silken robes,&rdquo a linen tent, perfumes, ointments, an elaborate water clock, and an elephant, Charlemagne replied with a present of Spanish horses and mules, hunting dogs, and &ldquosome [woolen] cloaks from Frisia, white, gray, crimson, and sapphire-blue&rdquo&mdashmade of the expensive cloth traded by Frisian seamen. (Harun, unimpressed, &ldquocast a careless eye&rdquo over everything but the hunting dogs.) 39 Linen, an article of commerce in the Roman period, in the early Middle Ages retreated to the status of a domestic industry, supplying local needs but no longer profitable enough to transport to distant markets. 40

Techniques of manufacture remained unchanged over a long period. Wool fleece was given a preliminary washing, then combed to remove the tangles and impurities and draw out the fibers parallel to one another. Yarn was spun with the spindle, usually &ldquosuspended&rdquo&mdashfree hanging&mdashin a process unchanged since its description by Catullus in the first century B.C. Holding in her left hand the distaff, a short forked stick around which a mass of the prepared raw fibers was wound, the spinster took some of the fibers between the finger and thumb of her right hand, twisting them together as she drew them gently downward. When the thread thus produced was long enough, she tucked the distaff under her arm or in her belt and tied the thread with a slipknot to the top of the spindle, a toplike rod with a disk-shaped weight attached to the bottom to increase rotation, and gave it a turn. The suspended weight pulled the fibers slowly through the spinster&rsquos fingers, while the rotation twisted them together into yarn. The process depended on the practiced skill of the spinster in controlling the release of the fibers. Drawing out more fibers from the distaff, she repeated the operation until the spindle reached the floor, when she picked it up and wound the spun thread around it. When the spindle was full, she wound the thread into a ball. 41

The process never ceased, and the skill was universal, especially for women of the lower classes, who always had spindle in hand, even while cooking, feeding livestock, or minding the children (or, to believe one medieval miniature, having sex). Spinning was so identified with women that the female side of the family was known as the &ldquodistaff side,&rdquo or the &ldquospindle side.&rdquo Primitive though the technology seems, hand spinning created an excellent product, one not easily matched by machinery even centuries later.

Distaff and suspended spindle: women carried them even when performing other tasks. [British Library, Luttrell Psalter, Ms. Add. 42130, f. 166v.]

It took many hand spinners to supply a single weaver, who operated one of two types of vertical loom, either warp-weighted or two-beam. In its most primitive form, the warp-weighted loom consisted of a pair of wooden uprights joined at the top by a wooden &ldquocloth beam&rdquo that could be turned to roll up the cloth as it was woven. Warp (lengthwise) threads, hanging from the cloth beam, were held taut by clay weights at the bottom. To produce a plain weave, the weaver might first pass the weft (lateral) thread from right to left over each even-numbered warp thread and under each odd-numbered one, then on the next row return from left to right, reversing the procedure, lifting the warp threads with one hand as the weft was passed under with the other. A ninth-century saint&rsquos life describes a woman weaver in &ldquothe winter work halls&rdquo of an estate weaving &ldquowith bent fingers,&rdquo holding a small skein or ball of weft in her hand and passing it through the warp. 42 After a row was completed, the weft was pushed up to join previous rows at the top of the loom (beaten upward), using the fingers, a bone weaving comb, or an iron &ldquoweaving sword&rdquo with a long, flat blade.

Vertical warp-weighted loom (schematic drawing).

In a more advanced version of the warp-weighted loom, the process was simplified by the introduction of the &ldquoheddle,&rdquo a device that made it possible to raise a complete set of warp threads with a single movement. The odd and even warp threads hung down alternately in front and in back of a fixed horizontal &ldquoshed rod.&rdquo A second, adjustable bar called the heddle was loosely joined by loops of twine to the rear warp threads. The weaver first passed the weft through the &ldquonatural shed,&rdquo the space between rear and front warp threads created by the shed rod. On the next row, she moved the heddle forward in its brackets, pulling the rear warp threads to the front and creating a space known as the &ldquoartificial shed,&rdquo through which the weft was passed. Alternating these two positions and sheds produced plain weave. Variations in pattern could be created by changing the arrangement of warp threads and by increasing the number of heddle rods. 43

The vertical two-beam loom was operated similarly, except that it was usually smaller and narrower, and the weft was beaten downward instead of up. The Utrecht Psalter (c. 834) shows a woman in a gynaeceum weaving outdoors under a canopy, using a two-beam loom, separating the warp threads with her fingers.

Linen was spun and woven by the same processes as wool, but the raw fibers required a more extensive treatment: first hanging the bundles of flax to dry so that the seeds could be shaken out, then &ldquoretting&rdquo&mdashsoaking in water&mdashand pounding to remove the bark, finally &ldquohackling,&rdquo drawing the stalks across a board set with rows of spikes to remove the rest of the stem and to separate the fibers. 44

Vertical two-beam loom, from a twelfth-century copy of the Utrecht Psalter. [Trinity College, Cambridge, Ms. R 17, 1, f. 263.]

&ldquoMen of Iron&rdquo

In contrast to cloth making, military technology was an area that in the early medieval centuries experienced radical transformation, embracing weapons, defensive armor, fortifications, and, historically most intriguing, the equipage of a riding horse, especially the stirrup.

At the outset of his career, the late Lynn White proposed a bold hypothesis: the stirrup, imported from Asia, made possible shock combat by mounted knights, whose endowment by Charles Martel with Church lands to pay for their expensive gear laid the foundation for feudalism. 45 White&rsquos essay stirred controversy, research, and critical analysis that yielded a more complex picture. It is now established that the campaigns of Charles Martel and Charlemagne were dominated by sieges and raids, with little evidence of shock combat, and that a nobility of birth already existed, with origins in the old Frankish aristocracy it merely gained an infusion of blood from the knights, who appeared on the scene in the tenth century. The foundations of feudalism included customs of both Germanic and Roman society, and the system reached maturity only in the thirteenth century. 46

Nevertheless, if it was not the catalyst White suggested, the stirrup had military impact and social repercussions sufficient to justify the term &ldquorevolution.&rdquo Its beginnings trace to India in the second century B.C., in the form of a loop into which the rider thrust his big toe. Such a stirrup could give only slight assistance to staying on the horse and even less in mounting, besides being limited to barefoot, warm-weather riders. 47 Iconographic evidence of the true stirrup dates from the early fourth century A.D. in China, whence, like so many innovations, it gravitated westward. Turkish Avars, who appreciated its steadying effect in firing arrows from the saddle, brought it to Hungary, whence it passed to the rest of Europe, evidently valued mainly for assistance in mounting: the words for stirrup in Old High German, Old Saxon, and Old English all derived from words for climbing (heretofore horsemen had used a mounting stool or vaulted onto horseback). The earliest representation of a stirrup in the West occurs in a St. Gall manuscript of the late ninth century the Utrecht Psalter of circa 834 shows many mounted warriors but none with stirrups. 48

This ninth-century equestrian statue of Charlemagne shows no stirrups. [Louvre.]

When European horsemen finally adopted the stirrup and matched it with the contoured saddle, they gained a dramatic advantage. From their newly secure seat, they could deal heavy blows, at first with the existing battle-ax, later with long sword and heavy lance. The last weapon especially created true &ldquoshock combat&rdquo by permitting a blow to be struck with the energy derived from the mass of the charging horse. How much the advantage was used, and when (outside tournaments) is still an open question. In the Bayeux Tapestry of circa 1080, mounted combatants on both Norman and English sides are shown hurling spears and lances, rather than driving them couched. 49

Besides the nailed horseshoe, which arrived from the East at about the same time as the stirrup, Europeans added to cavalry accoutrements two native inventions, spurs and the curb bit, providing effective control for a rider who had only one hand free for the reins. 50

Norman knights at the Battle of Hastings (1066) are equipped with stirrups, but throw their spears. Bayeux Tapestry. [Phaidon Press.]

Fighting from horseback encouraged the adoption of heavy defensive armor, which quickly gave cavalry the ascendancy on the battlefield. Charlemagne&rsquos biographer Notker describes the formidable appearance of Charlemagne and his army at the siege of Pavia (774), in full battle gear:

That man of iron [was] topped with his iron helmet, his fists in iron gloves, his iron chest and his broad shoulders clad in an iron cuirass. An iron spear raised on high against the sky was gripped in his left hand. In his right he held his still unconquered sword&hellip[His thighs] were bound in plates of iron&helliphis greaves [lower-leg coverings] too were made of iron. His shield was all iron. His horse itself gleamed iron in color and in mettle. All those who rode before him, those who accompanied him on either flank, those who followed, wore the same armor, and their gear was as close a copy of his own as it is possible to imagine&hellipThe rays of the sun were reflected by this battle-line of iron. This race of men harder than iron did homage to the very hardness of iron. 51

In picturing a whole army clad in plate armor, Notker exaggerated plate armor was for kings and leaders. The universal armor of the ordinary mounted soldier of the early Middle Ages was &ldquomail&rdquo&mdashmetal scales, strips, or rings sewn on a leather or padded-cloth tunic. A coat of mail was expensive so were the helmet, shield, and arms, not to mention the large, specially bred horses (chargers, destriers) in the marketplace such a horse was worth as much as four to ten oxen or forty to a hundred sheep. A coat of mail, made up of tens of thousands of individually forged iron rings, was worth sixty sheep. 52 As the cost of equipment rose, a social transformation followed the military one, and from soldier of mediocre status the knight was elevated to member of a prestigious caste, graced with a code of conduct that exerted strong influence on posterity.

Shock combat: knights charging with couched lances, from the twelfth-century Life, Passion, and Miracles of St. Edmund. [The Pierpont Morgan Library, M. 736, f. 7v.]

The military landscape of the ninth century featured another technological innovation that became a symbol of the Middle Ages: the castle. The disorders that followed the disintegration of Charlemagne&rsquos empire, exacerbated by the Viking raiders, made northwest Europe look to its defenses. Towns rebuilt long-neglected walls, reviving the half-forgotten art of stonemasonry, while in the countryside, fortresses appeared, but fortresses of a novel description. Masonry was too costly for the thinly populated rural districts, and the new structures were of timber and earth&mdash&ldquomotte and bailey,&rdquo the motte a mound, natural or artificial, the bailey a palisaded court below. Even more distinctive than their physical form was their social character. Public forts manned by professional garrisons were of long standing, but the motte-and-bailey castle was a private fortress, not exactly by design but by an inevitable progression. Originally intended as command post for a Carolingian imperial officer, the &ldquocastellan,&rdquo who lived in it with his family, servants, and retainers, it soon became an independent hereditary possession and the castellan the ruling authority of his local district.

Cheap and quick to build, requiring little skilled labor, the motte-and-bailey castle was nevertheless militarily effective. It could not only block the invasion of a region but control the local population. Chronicler Jean de Colmieu describes the building of a motte:

It is the custom of the nobles of the neighborhood to make a mound of earth as high as they can and then encircle it with a ditch as wide and deep as possible. They enclose the space on top of the mound with a palisade of very strong hewn logs firmly fixed together, strengthened at intervals by as many towers as they have means for. Within the enclosure is a house, a central citadel or keep which commands the whole circuit of the defense. The entrance to the fortress is across a bridge&hellipsupported on pairs of posts&hellipcrossing the ditch and reaching the upper level of the mound at the level of the entrance gate [to the enclosure]. 53

In times of peace, the lord and his family lived in the keep on top of the mound, the garrison, horses, and other livestock in wooden structures in the bailey (courtyard) below. Threatened with attack, everyone withdrew to the keep.

Remains of motte-and-bailey castle built by William the Conqueror at Berkhamsted. The motte (mound) was topped with a timber stockade. Berkhamsted was unusual in having a wet moat. [Aerofilms Ltd.]

The economy and effectiveness of the motte-and-bailey castle led to its survival into the high Middle Ages, in competition with its more elaborate and far costlier masonry counterpart. A thirteenth-century motte-and-bailey described by the priest Lambert of Ardres had three stories: on the ground floor, storage rooms on the second, the hall where the family lived and ate, the &ldquogreat chamber&rdquo where lord and lady slept, and the nursery on the third, a dormitory for the adolescent children and the servants, and a chapel. 54

At the other end of Europe, where the surviving eastern half of the Roman Empire, now frankly Greek, or Byzantine, was beset by enemies, a piece of military and naval technology more dramatic than the stirrup suddenly appeared in the seventh century. If &ldquoGreek fire&rdquo alone did not preserve Byzantium, it certainly helped.

Incendiary weapons were not themselves new to warfare. Naphtha (a petroleum distillate) was known as early as the fourth century B.C., and petroleum, sulfur, bitumen, and resin were used in both land and naval warfare in the first centuries of the Christian era. The new Greek mixture, credited by the Byzantine historian Theophanes to Callinicus, a Syrian refugee from the Arab conquest, was discharged from tubes mounted in ships&rsquo prows and could not be extinguished with water. Its chemical composition has defied positive analysis, and the method of ignition is even more puzzling. Probably it was a mixture of distilled petroleum, not unlike modern gasoline, thickened with resinous substances and sulfur to slow its dissipation in water and keep it from being washed away from the target by wave action. Reports that it ignited on contact with water were probably the result of faulty observation. A similar Chinese weapon of the tenth century, &ldquofierce fire oil&rdquo (distilled petroleum), was ignited by a charge of gunpowder, but the Byzantines had no gunpowder in the seventh century. It has been conjectured that they projected their mixture with a force pump, the Hellenistic device credited to Ctesibius. Still another puzzle is how the Byzantine sailors managed to store so volatile a mixture safely aboard their own ships. A modern conjecture is that the mixture was not volatile until heated and pressurized below decks immediately before combat.

The secret was the more easily guarded because of its inherent complexity, comprising not only the mixture but method of preparation and means of discharge. The weapon was first used, with devastating effect, against an Arab fleet attacking Constantinople in 673, and again in 717. An eighth-century account describes iron shields that protected the men who worked the bronze flamethrowers, and the thunderous noise of the flaming jets, sometimes hand-held, sometimes mounted on the ships. &ldquoThanks to the cooperation of God through His wholly immaculate Mother&rsquos intercession,&rdquo recorded the chronicler Theophanes, &ldquothe enemy was sunk on the spot. Seizing booty and the Arab&rsquos supplies, our men returned with joy and victory.&rdquo Eventually the Arabs acquired at least a version of the weapon, while its secret, limited to a very small ruling circle, was meantime (before 1204) lost by the Greeks themselves. 55

Swords and Plowshares

Notker&rsquos description of Charlemagne as &ldquothat man of iron&rdquo reflects the aristocratic role the &ldquodemocratic metal&rdquo had assumed in early medieval Europe. Metal mining and production of all types had fallen off sharply with the loss of the powerful sponsorship of the Imperial government, and some of the old Greco-Roman techniques had been lost. But small-scale open-pit mining and local forges continued operations on both sides of the old Roman frontier, and as the population grew, the need for more and better agricultural equipment, such as the new heavy plow, supplied a stimulus in addition to that of the knightly &ldquomen of iron&rdquo with their swords, battle-axes, helmets, and chain mail.

The medieval blacksmith enjoyed high prestige, including the reputation of being in league with diabolic powers a smith might be consulted to cast or break spells, to cure disease, or to repair broken bones. As a fabricator of armor and weapons, in Wales he sat at the table next to the royal chaplain, and at Tara, the ancient Irish royal hall, he joined the royal verse maker, brewer, and teacher on the king&rsquos right hand. 56 In time the allied professions of armorer and locksmith became spin-off specialties, and the blacksmith limited himself to farm-implement manufacture and repair, nail making, and horseshoeing. Throughout the early Middle Ages he remained the most important of the skilled craftsmen. The tenth-century Anglo-Saxon writer Aelfric composed an imaginary debate among craftsmen on their relative importance in which the smith triumphantly pointed out that none of the others could work without the tools he made them. 57

Hardly any relevant documents survive on early medieval metallurgy, and though archaeological sites have turned up a wealth of evidence, such as the twenty-four-furnace array at Zelochovice, Czechoslovakia, dating and interpretation are difficult. The first step in smelting was washing and roasting the ore and breaking it into chunks suitable for the reduction furnace. After centuries as a mere depression in the ground with clay lining and dome, the furnace began its rise by adding a stubby chimney of clay and sandstone. Besides the gas exit, two openings were provided, a charging hole for introduction of the ore and an aperture near the bottom to allow extraction of the &ldquobloom&rdquo of iron&mdashsoft and glowing but not molten&mdashand introduction of a draft supplied by a pair of bellows. In its appetite for fuel, the furnace was rapacious, typically burning twelve pounds of charcoal to smelt a pound of iron. 58

The hot bloom was pummeled on a flat stone to expel the slag (sand and clay) and consolidate the iron into bars and plates suitable for the smith. The master ironworkers &ldquoonly knew how, they did not know why, they did certain things&rdquo (W. K. V. Gale). They knew that their charcoal created iron they did not know that it did its job by drawing the oxygen out of the ore (iron oxide) to unite with carbon and escape as a gas. They knew that if the heat was maintained too long, something went wrong they did not know that the iron having got rid of its oxygen began taking on carbon. Much later, when furnaces produced high enough temperatures to melt iron, the molten metal could be cast in molds (hence the name &ldquocast iron&rdquo), but in the early Middle Ages the accidental production of solid lumps of metal too brittle to be worked was merely a nuisance. If all went well, several hours&rsquo work produced a few pounds of usable iron. 59 Certain ores, rich in manganese, produced a naturally steely iron. 60

The medieval bellows consisted of a wooden box closed by a piece of leather that could be pressed by hand or foot, forcing the air out of a small hole into a pipe leading to the tuyere (nozzle) and thence to the fire. A cord and a springy piece of wood pulled the bellows skin up again, admitting a fresh charge of air. In the smelting furnace, bellows were paired, so that their alternate blows kept a steady draft going.

The smith who received the iron from the reduction furnace relied, like the iron smelter, on his skill, experience, and the knowledge passed from generation to generation at the forge over a thousand years. He knew how to harden his metal by reheating it to a high temperature and holding it there for a certain length of time, not why the effect occurred: the iron was absorbing from the charcoal a small amount of carbon (less than one percent), and here too if the process was allowed to go on too long, the product became brittle and unusable. He did not even realize that the hardening he achieved was only surface deep&mdash&ldquocase hardening&rdquo in modern metallurgical vocabulary&mdashonly that the improvement made the metal far more valuable. 61

More and more iron now went into plowshares, harrows, sickles, and billhooks, and even some church bells were made of iron, the smith welding or riveting four pieces together. But the most famous products of the smith were the formidable long swords wielded by the armored knights, produced by stretching and refolding the case-hardened strips back on each other. The finished blade had a characteristic appearance, &ldquorather like streaky bacon&rdquo (Leslie Aitchison), and a high price. 62 In Charlemagne&rsquos time a good sword cost as much as three cows and was correspondingly treasured. Its owner might give it a name and even have religious relics enclosed in the hilt. A legendary character came to be attached to the swords of great heroes: Roland&rsquos Durandal, Charlemagne&rsquos Joyeuse, King Arthur&rsquos Excalibur, El Cid&rsquos Tizona. 63

Chain mail, known in ancient times, may have had an Eastern origin, but medieval smiths and armorers fabricated it in previously unheard-of quantities. How it was made is not certain the mature version of the hauberk or coat of mail consisted of hand-drawn iron wire soldered into rings, each ring linked to its neighbors. The rings-sewn-on-leather version was retained for foot soldiers and archers.

More and better iron improved the smith&rsquos own tools and those of his frequent partner, the carpenter. Few new devices were introduced, but many old ones became for the first time widely diffused, including one machine very important for woodworking and carpentry, the lathe. Designed to rotate a workpiece rapidly against a cutting tool, the medieval version came in two forms, the pole lathe and the bow lathe. In the first, a cord was wound around an axle and fastened by one end to a pole, which bent downward as the other end of the cord was pulled to rotate the axle released, the pole supplied spring action to spin the axle in the opposite direction. The bow lathe substituted a bow, fixed overhead, for the pole. 64

Waist-level hearth with bellows. [British Library, Sloane Ms. 3983, f. 5.]

The massive swords and battle-axes of the men of iron required sharpening when first fabricated and at intervals afterward. So did many of the agricultural and household implements. For long ages, blades had been honed by reciprocal rubbing against a naturally abrasive stone (usually sandstone). The Chinese had invented a rotary grindstone much earlier, but whether the idea migrated westward or originated independently in Europe is unknown. Its significance lies in its character as the earliest application of the crank principle, and its first representation in Europe is in the Utrecht Psalter (834), illustrating the Sixty-third Psalm: a rotary grindstone is being operated by a man turning an unmistakable right-angled crank. Lynn White pointed out that the wicked (&ldquothose that seek my soul&rdquo) are depicted sharpening their swords on an old-fashioned whetstone, while the righteous, preparing to battle them, sharpen theirs with the new, technically innovative rotary grindstone. 65

One of the simplest and historically most valuable of machine components, the crank presents a mystery in its slow diffusion westward or independent invention and reinvention. From the rotary grindstone, the medieval crank moved to the hand organ or hurdy-gurdy (originally a church instrument), then to the crossbow and the brace and bit, before at last, nearly at the end of the Middle Ages, becoming a machine component. 66

The Romanesque Church

Like mining and metallurgy, building construction suffered after the fall of Rome, at least in the troubled western half of the Empire. In the eastern half, sixth-century Constantinople acquired an elaborate sewage system and the magnificent domed cathedral of Santa Sophia, which rose in the incredibly short time of five years. 67

Illustrating the Sixty-third Psalm, a rotary grindstone is operated, lower right, while man at lower left sharpens sword on old-fashioned whetstone. From the ninth-century Utrecht Psalter. [Utrecht University Library, Aev. med. script. eccl. 484, f. 35v.]

In the early medieval West, lords and prelates stripped the Roman temples and public buildings of their marble facings and despoiled walls of their bricks to ornament their own palaces, churches, and country houses. Stonecutters turned to odd jobs and ceased transmitting their skills, while brick making disappeared from northern Europe until the high Middle Ages. Charlemagne, restoring some of the majesty of Imperial power, had difficulty in rounding up enough skilled masons to build the royal palace and chapel in his new capital of Aachen. Masonry structures of the Carolingian Age show a reliance on mortar, troweled thickly on the stone courses, in contrast to the elegant Roman practice of using no mortar at all, or thin layers only. The secret of Roman cement and concrete was lost, not to be recovered until the nineteenth century. 68

Financial and technical constrictions notwithstanding, the early Middle Ages did a considerable amount of building. Greek and Roman temples had been rarities, the Roman religion being practiced mainly at home rather than in a church. The triumph of Christianity, institutionalized in community worship, demanded churches in numbers the Western world had never seen. The &ldquobasilicas&rdquo designed to accommodate city congregations were large, built of stone, and modeled on the Roman public hall, divided by rows of columns into nave and aisles. In the sixth century, Gregory of Tours recorded the dimensions of the new basilica of Tours, built over the tomb of St. Martin, as 160 feet long by 60 feet wide and 45 feet high, with 52 windows, 8 doors, and 120 marble columns. The new cathedral in Gregory&rsquos native Clermont was equally impressive. 69

The monastic movement launched by St. Benedict also required large buildings, such as the abbey of Jumièges in Normandy (seventh century) and the abbey church of St. Denis, near Paris, rebuilt from a fifth-century church in about 760. Nearly all the &ldquoRomanesque&rdquo (Roman-like) churches were built on the plan of the basilica, often with a transept projecting on either side and a rounded apse at the eastern end. Churches in Gaul often had bell towers, in the middle, over the crossing, or as separate structures. Charlemagne&rsquos renaissance stimulated the rebuilding of many Merovingian churches on a still larger scale, for example, at Cologne and Rheims. 70

Most churches were merely roofed with timber, but some were provided with vaulting, in the form of the tunnel-like barrel vault, which with its massive supporting walls cost fifteen to eighteen times what timber roofing did and permitted only small window openings. Yet in the meager windows of the early medieval basilica the first stained glass appeared. The historian Bede describes the glazing of the windows of monastic buildings at Monkwearmouth (County Tyne and Wear) in the seventh century by craftsmen imported from the Continent, to ornament &ldquoa stone church built&hellipin the Roman style.&rdquo 71 By the tenth century, stained glass (actually not stained but emerging colored from the glassmaking process) was already a glory of Christian cathedrals.

Interior of ninth-century abbey church of St. Philibert, near Nantes, showing heavy piers of the nave.

Rivers, Roads, and Bridges

In addition to the Christian churches, a few Roman-type public works were built in the ninth century. Charlemagne restored the famous Roman lighthouse at Boulogne, and St. Aldric, bishop of Le Mans, caused a 4½-mile-long aqueduct to be constructed to serve his city, while along the upper Loire, levees were erected to aid navigation. 72

The rivers of northwest Europe, comparatively free from winter ice and flowing year round, served commerce well even in a natural state. They carried a substantial part of the increasing traffic in wine, which benefited from the now general substitution of a variety of wooden barrels, vats, and tubs for the amphorae and skins of the ancient world. Like the Mississippi flatboatmen of a later era, medieval river men poled their craft downstream, sold them for timber at their destination, and walked back. Where water traffic was heavy, oxen trod towpaths hauling barges. 73 Charlemagne conceived a grandiose project for a canal linking the Danube with the Rhine, which was actually started but left unfinished until a thousand years later. 74 Whether ninth-century engineers could have solved the problem posed by the different levels of the two rivers is conjectural the canal lock did not yet exist, even in China.

Lords who enjoyed locations on busy rivers copied the Roman authorities in levying tolls but not in applying the revenue to improve navigation. Excessive tolls actually reduced traffic in some cases, and some lords were no better than pirates, or, in the phrase they added to Western languages, &ldquorobber barons.&rdquo

Roads were less important in commerce than rivers. Hardly anything is known of early medieval road building and maintenance except by implication. Roman roads probably deteriorated more quickly in the wet, cold northern climate than in the South, but all roads require extensive maintenance, for which no adequate governmental or even regional authority now existed. Barbarian kings who inherited the Roman Empire&rsquos taxing power often allowed it to lapse out of indifference, their traditional governmental responsibilities imposing no demand for large revenues. The need for road maintenance only slowly gained the stature of a government problem. 75

A further complication arose as the northward and westward movement of agriculture and settlement created whole new route orientations, notably from the old Lyons-centered network of Roman Gaul to the Paris-centered web of Merovingian France. Unused pavements acquired overlays of soil and vegetation, under which they slumbered until disturbed by modern archaeology. The Roman road that best retained its importance was that traveled by English pilgrims on their way to Rome, crossing France from Boulogne to Langres to the Alpine passes, a route preferable to the risky sea voyage even in the ninth century, when the passes were infested with Saracen bands. 76

&ldquoIncomparably more important&rdquo than roads in the improvement of medieval transportation and communication, according to Marjorie Boyer, were bridges. 77 Of the three kinds of river crossings in existence, fords were often unfordable, ferries inadequate, bridges, if they existed, in need of repair. The general substitution of permanent, well-maintained bridges for fords and ferries has been called (by C. T. Flower) &ldquothe great public work&rdquo of the Middle Ages. 78 Pack animals could negotiate even a bad road, but not a river served only by a skiff, or nothing at all. In the obscurity of the early Middle Ages, at least a beginning was made in solving the river-crossing problem.

All that we know of early medieval spans is that they were made of wood and stone, certainly more wood than stone. Descriptions are entirely lacking, and hardly a fragment survives. We do know that Charlemagne and his successors imposed responsibility for bridge building and maintenance on the local inhabitants, with a military function primarily in mind. A fortified bridge could not only block a crossing but control traffic in the river. A bridge over the Marne at Treix prevented the Vikings from ascending the river. The problem of financing construction was met by a double collection of tolls, for both land and water traffic.

As early as the sixth century, supplemental roles were found for bridges. One important one was conceived during the siege of Rome by the Goths in 537, when the enemy shut off the aqueducts whose water drove the city&rsquos gristmills. Belisarius, theByzantine general defending the city, ordered floating mills installed close to the Tiber bridges, whose piers constricted and accelerated the current. Two rows of boats were anchored with waterwheels suspended between them. The arrangement worked so well that cities all over Europe were soon copying it. 79 The Grand Pont in Paris, probably a combination of wood and stone, built water mills under its roadway and houses on top of it, inaugurating one of the Middle Ages&rsquo most picturesque architectural fashions.

Navigation: Lateen Sail and Long Ship

While land transportation struggled with roads and river crossings, at sea two new shipbuilding traditions emerged, the northern and the southern. By the year 900, both had achieved important advances in design over the ships of the ancient world.

In the Mediterranean the triangular (or near-triangular) lateen sail was at last successfully rigged on large vessels. The Byzantines, who may have learned the technique from their Muslim enemies, passed it on to other Europeans, and by 800 it had become the dominant sail on the Mediterranean. Hung from a long, sloping yard, one end of which rose well above the masthead while the other reached nearly to the deck, the lateen could take the wind on either side, improving a ship&rsquos ability to sail close to the wind. This was especially valuable in helping a ship fight off a lee shore. The old picture of medieval sailing ships hugging the coast is a misconception, since the coastal rocks and shoals represented the main danger to a vessel. But much navigation in coastal waters was unavoidable. 80

Manipulating the lateen was not easy. To come about (change tack) required lifting the yard over the top of the mast, calling for extra skill and extra manpower, but the advantages outweighed the difficulties. The Byzantine navy&rsquos sail-and-oar &ldquodromons&rdquo made good use of the lateen in getting into position to project their Greek fire. 81 Though designed specifically for war, the dromon also proved a practical cargo carrier.

Simultaneously with adoption of the lateen sail, Byzantine and other Mediterranean shipbuilders introduced a radical new system of hull construction. After long following the Roman method of building up the hull plank by plank, each succeeding plank fastened edge to edge to its predecessor by mortise and tenon, and the supporting skeleton inserted late in the job, they now reversed the procedure and built the skeleton first. Much skilled labor was saved, and though the resulting hull was not as strong as the Roman, the savings in labor translated into cost savings for carrying commercial cargo. 82

Meanwhile, northern European shipbuilding was pursuing its own long line of evolution, entirely isolated from the Mediterranean tradition. Two very early specimens of northern ships, one prehistoric, the other from the Roman period, have been discovered by archaeologists. The older, found at Als, Denmark, dating to about 350 B.C., was forty feet long and clinker built, that is, with its planks overlapping, lashed together rather than nailed. The ship had no mast or keel and no oarlocks, and was evidently paddled by its crew, canoe fashion. 83 The second, recovered from a burial site at Nydam, Schleswig, and dating from the third century A.D., was seventy-five feet long, its clinker-built planks nailed as well as lashed, making the hull both flexible and durable. Still lacking a mast and limited to coastal navigation, the Nydam ship embodied a large advance in power: its twenty-eight crewmen faced sternward and pulled on oars.

These premedieval examples foreshadowed the configuration of an eighty-foot-long Anglo-Saxon ship found at Sutton Hoo, England, near Ipswich, dating from about A.D. 600, clinker built but by a more advanced technique, its short planks riveted together lengthwise to form long strakes (ship&rsquos-length timbers), eliminating the need for hard-to-find long, straight tree trunks. Still lacking mast and keel, the ship was apparently used for coastal and cross-Channel navigation, probably in the trade partnerships with the Merovingian kings. The space taken up by the two dozen or more rowers, however, left little room for cargo. 84

By this time, northern ships probably included sailing craft, but no evidence of them has survived. The first northern ship to combine sail and oar propulsion that archaeology has uncovered is a late-ninth-century Viking vessel found at Gokstad, Norway. Its keel was fashioned from a single giant oak trunk, providing great strength and supporting a mast anchored firmly in a strong socket (keelson). Such a ship could sail all night in the open sea before a favorable wind, vastly increasing its range and potential. 85

The principal weakness of the galley had always been its lack of sleeping room for the crew, virtually imposing nightly landings. A ship equipped only with oars had to inch its way along the coast to the English Channel and home again to Denmark or Norway. An open-sea sail-and-oar ship could reach the Channel coasts from Scandinavia in a few days and there exploit its shallow draft (about 3½ feet) and maneuverability by ascending rivers to trade or raid.

Reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon Sutton Hoo ship, c. A.D. 600. [British Museum.]

The deck of a Gokstad-type ship was composed of loose planking, which kept out the sea but was easily opened to load cargo. Its overlapping hull timbers were secured by wooden pegs (treenails) driven through holes bored to receive them, the pegs split and wedged for snug fit gaps between the planks were made watertight by pressing in moss. Its oar holes were keyhole shaped, to permit oars to be passed out from inside the ship, and equipped with shutters to close them against the sea when oars were shipped. Like its predecessors, it could readily be beached for landing, loading, and unloading, taking advantage of the tides. The mast, probably at first immovable, could by the ninth century be unstepped and the square sail shifted to face in different directions, even fore and aft. Clumsier than the lateen sail, it nevertheless served its purpose. 86 A nineteenth-century replica of the Gokstad ship sailed from Bergen, Norway, to Newfoundland in twenty-eight days. 87

Model of the Gokstad ship, c. A.D. 900. [Science Museum, London.]

The product of a lengthy evolution, the longship of the Gokstad type was not deliberately designed for raiding but turned out to be ideal for the purpose. Its maturing coincided with a moment when Europe was both a vulnerable and an inviting target. Though ethnically and culturally homogeneous, the Vikings were geographically divided in three, a circumstance that led them in three different directions. Those from Norway tended to sail west to the Shetlands, then turn south into the Irish Sea, thence to the French and Spanish coasts. Those starting from Denmark turned into the English Channel, raiding Britain and the Low Countries, while those from Sweden crossed the Baltic to Germany, Lithuania, and Russia. The hit-and-run character of Viking (as well as Saracen) raids foiled the uncoordinated defensive efforts of Europe&rsquos dispersed political and military authority. Loaded with plunder, the longship turned merchant-trader, often setting up temporary shop in a district next door to the one it had just victimized. In the Viking mixture of raiding and trading, trading gradually came to predominate, mainly in the form of an extensive commercial empire in parts of eastern Europe and in Russia. Here the Vikings met Muslim merchants coming up the rivers from the other direction and traded furs and slaves, weapons and amber for the Muslims&rsquo silks, spices, and silver coins.

A Muslim diplomat described the arrival of Viking ships at a trading post on the Volga: the Northerners were &ldquotall as date-palms, blond and ruddy,&rdquo never parted from &ldquoaxe, sword and knife&hellipthe filthiest of God&rsquos creatures&helliplousy as donkeys.&rdquo Each trader went ashore to make an offering before &ldquoa large wooden post with a face like that of a human being,&rdquo placing bread, meat, onions, and beer at the foot of the image and then announcing, &ldquoOh, my Lord, I have come from a far land and have with me such-and-such a number of slave girls and such-and-such a number of sables,&rdquo and enumerating his other wares, then praying the idol to &ldquosend me a merchant with many dinars and dirhems, who will buy from me whatever I wish and will not dispute anything I say.&rdquo 88 Returning to northern Europe, the Vikings exchanged the silver dinars and dirhems for Rhenish wine, glassware, querns, and weapons, with the Frisians acting as go-betweens.

Meanwhile, in the West, resistance finally hardened, and the Scandinavian rovers gave up piracy and settled down in England and Normandy to crop and stock farming, supplemented by commercial dealings. The famous longship, however, was less well adapted to peaceful pursuits than to raiding and plundering. Better fitted to carry cargo&mdashor settlers&mdashespecially on long voyages, was the Viking version of the round ship, the &ldquoknorr.&rdquo Broad in beam, with six or eight oars positioned at the ends of the ship but with main reliance on sail, the knorr required a much smaller crew than the longship. 89 It was clinker built, but by the tenth century clinker construction was obsolescent. A better round ship had already appeared, originating in Sluys, in the Low Countries. The &ldquocog&rdquo employed carvel construction, borrowed from the Mediterranean, and a flat-bottomed hull design that helped in navigating the shoals of the southern shore of the North Sea and facilitated beach landing on sandbanks. 90 Both cog and knorr found a valuable new role in the mysterious migration into the Baltic of herring, unknown there in ancient times. Preserved in salt, herring made an excellent cargo for the English Channel and Bay of Biscay, where salt could be taken on as cargo for the return voyage.

Northern navigation, like southern, continued to suffer from serious deficiencies: inadequate rigging, weakness of hulls against storms, lack of maps, charts, and instruments. Both northern and southern sailors stayed home through the winter, except in rare cases. One such was recorded by St. Willibald, who was hardy enough to sail from Tyre, in Syria, to Constantinople, a coastwise distance of perhaps a thousand miles, in November of 726. He arrived the following spring, a week before Easter. 91

&ldquoNature&rsquos Secret Causes&rdquo

Commenting on the intellectual climate of the early Middle Ages, science historian R. J. Forbes has written, &ldquoScience was no longer the handmaid of philosophy instead both were made to serve religion.&rdquo 92 Philosophy in the early Middle Ages was in fact virtually indistinguishable from religion, and science was indeed its handmaid. Medieval theologians would have been surprised to learn that there was any difference among the three spheres of thought. Although St. Augustine believed that man could best perceive God directly through faith rather than through observing the created world, most medieval thinkers were followers of an alternate tradition, that of Boethius, who believed that knowledge of God could be attained through examination of the beauty and order of the universe. The man of reason, Boethius wrote, &ldquosought the causes of things&mdashwhy the sighing winds vexed the sea waves, what spirit turns the stable world, and why the sun rises out of the red East to fall beneath the western ocean&hellipwhat tempers the gentle hours of spring&hellipwhat causes fertile autumn to flow with bursting grapes in a good year,&rdquo in short, &ldquonature&rsquos secret causes.&rdquo 93

Boethius conducted experiments with the monochord, the single-stringed instrument that had been used by Pythagoras to demonstrate the mathematical order of the universe. Dividing the string proportionally produced the notes of the Pythagorean scale, which the Greeks believed represented divine proportions existing elsewhere in the universe, for example, in the distances separating the planets. Boethius and his successors elaborated on the Pythagorean conception of a mathematical universe, with the conviction that it must have (in the words of John Benton) &ldquoa musical, harmonious, beautiful, and ordered pattern&hellipif only one can find it.&rdquo 94

In the service of science-philosophy-religion, medieval churchmen did much to conserve knowledge (at least Latin knowledge) and even to add to it. Theologians such as Isidore of Seville, Hrabanus Maurus, Martianus Capella, and John Scotus Erigena devoted themselves to expositions of learning, their works providing students for the next several centuries with textbook information (not all of it reliable) on the liberal arts, medicine, agriculture, natural history, astronomy, and other secular topics. The Venerable Bede (673&ndash735) described the earth as a sphere, which like his ancient predecessors he located in the center of the universe, and gave a lucid account of eclipses and phases of the moon. He also composed a history of the world, for which he invented a new system of dating: backward and forward from the birth of Christ.

Charlemagne&rsquos counselor Alcuin (732&ndash804) promoted the adoption of &ldquoCaroline [Carolingian] minuscule,&rdquo a more readable and regular version of several lower-case scripts invented by the clergy in the preceding century to replace Roman upper case (majuscule) in order to economize on expensive parchment or vellum. The new script facilitated the copying of the Latin classics, rescued from oblivion by the monasteries, &ldquoislands in a sea of ignorance&rdquo (Charles Homer Haskins). 95 Caroline minuscule came to be universally adopted in the West, where a version of it eventually contributed an essential element to the invention of printing: the typeface. Most typefaces in use today are descendants of Caroline minuscule.

Boethius, from a manuscript of On the Consolation of Philosophy. [Bodleian Library, Ms. Auct. F 6.5, f. lv.]

The monasteries manufactured their own writing materials, trimming the skin of a calf, sheep, or goat, soaking it in lime, stretching, scraping, and cutting it into sheets. A better ink introduced in the seventh century, gall-iron ink, made with a soluble iron salt, supplanted the old carbon-black-and-gum solution. The scribe, sitting on a bench with his feet on a low stool, worked at a writing desk equipped with inkhorn, quill pen, and erasing knife, copying sometimes directly from a manuscript, sometimes from the dictation of a reader. To test their pens, scribes jotted comments in the margins: &ldquoHow hairy this parchment is!&rdquo &ldquoIt is cold today.&rdquo &ldquoIt&rsquos dinnertime.&rdquo Manuscripts commissioned by the wealthy required the additional services of a painter, who decorated the initials and added other embellishments in colored inks and gold leaf. 96

The scribe Eadwine, from the twelfth-century Canterbury Psalter. [Trinity College, Cambridge, Ms. R 17, f. 1.]

The Christian clergy also served science and technology as teachers. The Benedictine monk was &ldquothe first intellectual to get dirt under his fingernails&rdquo (Lynn White), 97 as he explored and taught agricultural science, stock breeding, forestry, metalworking, glassmaking, and other useful arts. The great monasteries maintained their corps of artisans. The abbey of Corbie, near Amiens, had six blacksmiths, a fuller, two goldsmiths, a parchment maker, and four carpenters St.-Riquier, on the Channel coast northwest of Corbie, also had shoemakers and saddlers. The famous plan of St. Gall (Switzerland) shows workshops for cabinetmakers (&ldquoturners&rdquo), harness makers, saddlers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, goldsmiths, fullers, and sword polishers. 98

The new motte-and-bailey castles dominating local regions visually dramatized the developing political order, known to future historians as feudalism. As Vikings and Saracens retreated, the local lords could turn their attention and their innovative military technology against each other, creating a sort of Europe-wide anarchy on horseback. &ldquoThe strong built castles, the weak became their bondsmen&rdquo (James Bryce). 99

But under the untidy surface, more meaningful change had taken place. By the beginning of the tenth century, notwithstanding the fall of Rome, Vikings, Saracens, and the loss of Greek science, the new Europe had in its technology clearly surpassed the ancient Mediterranean world. In agriculture, metallurgy, and sources of power it had introduced significant improvements, inherited, borrowed from Asia, or invented independently. Its continuing demographic surge was beginning to be reflected qualitatively, in the growth of cities. Slavery, decaying as an institution, no longer supplied the basis of agricultural labor, and the Church pronounced emancipation of slaves to be &ldquogood work par excellence.&rdquo 100 (On the other hand, the Christian religion lent a moral cover to the slave trade, limiting it to non-Christian Slavs and Arabs, while Islam limited it to non-Muslims.) For everyone the standard of living was rising&mdashin Robert Reynolds&rsquos words, &ldquonot from high to higher, but from very low to less low.&rdquo 101

The revolution in agriculture that introduced new implements, new techniques, and a new organization of work was largely a revolution from below, not above. &ldquoThe hero of the late Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages,&rdquo wrote Lynn White, &ldquois the peasant, although this cannot be discovered from Gibbon.&rdquo 102

Less conspicuous than the castle but more significant for the long future was the above-ground reduction furnace, feeding iron to local forges whose smiths shaped it into parts for plows, spades, pitchforks, and shoes for horses beginning to pull with the aid of the new horse collar. As the horse trod Europe&rsquos fields to cultivate the crops, the waterwheel turned &ldquoat wondrous speed&rdquo to grind the grain, while the triangular lateen sail drove ships on the Mediterranean&mdashthree more symbols of progress in a not so Dark Age.


The battle of Flodden 500 years on

IF IT weren’t for the history, Branxton Hill in north Northumberland would be an ordinary patch of farmland essentially indistinguishable from a thousand other northern English fields. But there is history – and tragedy – aplenty here. As the clouds part, the land is washed with sunshine, the barley whispers in the breeze and you remember that the fate of a nation was once decided on these quiet and ordinary fields. For this is Flodden.

Five hundred years ago this place was a charnel house on these fields were piled high the bodies of the Scottish dead. All very gallant all very dead. Ten thousand of them, it is reckoned, though it is hard to be precise about these matters half a millennium later. At any rate, Scottish corpses outnumbered their English counterparts two to one. Among them King James IV himself, his natural son, the bishop of St Andrews, and no fewer than 13 earls. All of them lying cold in the clay.

For centuries Flodden was the yin to Bannockburn’s yang. To recall one was to implicitly recall the other. They balanced one another perfectly one a triumph the other a disaster. But no more, I think. The 700th anniversary of Bannockburn next year will be loudly celebrated the 500th anniversary of Flodden next month will be recalled with barely a whisper.


300: Rise of an Empire (2014)

Yes. Herodotus, also known as the "Father of History," makes numerous references to Artemisia as he recounts the events of the Greco-Persian war. He describes her as a ruler who did not lead passively, and instead, actively engaged herself in both adventure and warfare. "&hellipher brave spirit and manly daring sent her forth to the war, when no need required her to adventure. Her name, as I said, was Artemisia. " -The Histories

Was Artemisia really known for her cunning tactics and intelligence in combat?

Yes. In exploring the 300: Rise of an Empire true story, we came upon the works of Polyaenus, the 2nd century Macedonian writer. He describes an example of the real Artemisia's intelligence in combat. He tells of how she would carry two flags on board her ship, one a Persian flag and the other the flag of her enemy, Greece. Artemisia would fly the Greek flag as she approached an unsuspecting Greek warship. Once she was upon her enemy, she would then unleash the full force of her Carian fleet.


Similar to Artemisia (Eva Green) in the 300: Rise of an Empire movie, the real Artemisia, Queen of Caria, was a cunning conqueror with a penchant for warfare.

Were the Greeks really angered that a woman had taken up arms against them?

Yes. According to Herodotus, the united Greeks even offered a reward of 10,000 drachmas for Artemisia's capture.

What do the events in 300: Rise of an Empire have to do with the events in the original movie 300?

300: Rise of an Empire is a prequel, a side-sequel, and a sequel to the original film, 300 (2007), with the events in the follow-up taking place before, during, and after the events in the original. The first battle that takes place in the 300: Rise of an Empire movie is the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. This happens ten years prior to the events in 2007's 300 movie. Athens victory over Persia at Marathon, Greece sets the stage for the motivations behind Xerxes's transformation into the movie's fictional God King.

The second battle that occurs in 300: Rise of an Empire, the Battle of Artemisium (a 480 BC naval engagement), took place concurrently with the Battle of Thermopylae that unfolds in the original movie, 300. It was Themistocles who proposed that the Greeks attempt to stop the Persian advance by confronting them on land at the narrow strait at Thermopylae. Leonidas and the 300 Spartans undertook the task, which is chronicled in the movie 300, with the Spartans eventually being overtaken by the Persian forces. At the same time, the Greek navy attempted to block the Persians on the water in the Straits of Artemisium. However, they were forced to retreat after the defeat at Thermopylae.


Persian king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), with ax in hand, sits atop his horse as he looks over his fallen enemy, the Spartan king Leonidas (Gerard Butler). From 300: Rise of an Empire.

Had the Athenian general Themistocles been born into poverty?

Yes. According to historians Herodotus and Plutarch, the brave Athenian general Themistocles was not born into wealth. His father, Neocles, was an ambiguous Athenian citizen of modest means. It is believed that his mother was an immigrant. Other children kept Themistocles at a distance. It didn't bother him much, because as other children were off playing together, Themistocles was studying and sharpening his skills. As described by Plutarch, his teachers would say to him, "You, my boy, will be nothing insignificant, but great one way or another, either for good or for evil."

In researching the 300: Rise of an Empire true story, we learned that Themistocles less than modest upbringing benefited him in the newly democratic government of Athens. He campaigned in the streets and could relate to the common and underprivileged in a way that no one had before, always taking time to remember voters' names. He was elected to the highest government office in Athens, Archon Eponymous, by the time he was thirty.

Was Themistocles really responsible for Greece's strong navy?

Yes. Themistocles always believed in building up the Athenian navy. He knew that the Persians could only sustain a land invasion if their navy was able to support it from the coastal waters. However, most Athenians, including the Athenian generals, did not agree with Themistocles. They did not believe that a Persian invasion was imminent, and they thought that the Athenian army was strong enough to make up for any shortcomings with regard to the navy.

To get his wish for a stronger navy, Themistocles used his political position to lie and mislead the Athenians into believing that the rival nearby island of Aegina posed a threat to merchant ships. Accepting his argument, the Athenians decided to invest in the navy, leaving Athens with the most dominant naval force in all of Greece. Therefore, it can be argued that Greek civilization was saved by a lie.


Top: Actors stand on the deck of an Athenian trireme (ancient vessel) constructed on a sound stage for the movie. Bottom: A seaworthy reconstruction of a trireme, the Olympias, was launched in 1987.

Did Themistocles really kill Xerxes's father, King Darius?

No. The true story behind 300: Rise of an Empire reveals that Themistocles did not kill Xerxes's father, King Darius I of Persia (Darius the Great), with an arrow at the Battle of Marathon. King Darius died approximately four years later in 486 BC of failing health. It was then that Xerxes, the eldest son of Darius and Atossa, became King, ruling as Xerxes I.

Did Xerxes really transform into a God King?

No. As you probably guessed, the real Xerxes did not transform into a supernatural God King like in the movie (pictured below). In fact, Xerxes's motivation for his transformation did not even exist in real life, since Themistocles did not kill Xerxes's father at the Battle of Marathon. This highly fictionalized version of Xerxes comes from the mind of Frank Miller, the creator of the 300 graphic novel and the still unpublished Xerxes comic series.


Persian king Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) transforms into the fictional God King in 300: Rise of an Empire.

Was Artemisia's family murdered by Greek hoplites, after which she was taken as a slave?

No. In the 300: Rise of an Empire movie, a young Artemisia (Caitlin Carmichael) watches as her family is murdered by a squad of Greek hoplites. She then spends several years being held as a sex slave in the bowels of a Greek slave ship. She is left to die in the street and is helped by a Persian warrior. She soon finds herself training with the finest warriors in the Persian Empire, hoping to one day exact revenge on Greece. This backstory for Artemisia was invented by Frank Miller and the filmmakers to explain the motivations behind Artemisia's ruthless thirst for vengeance in the film.

Did Artemisia have a husband?


Left: Artemisia (Eva Green) clad in armor in 300: Rise of an Empire. Right: A 16th century coin-like portrait of Artemisia from Guillaume Rouillé's book Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum.

Yes. Artemisia I of Caria had a son named Pisindelis (not shown in the movie), who was still a boy when his father died and his mother took over as ruler.

Was Artemisia the only female commander in the Greco-Persian wars?

Yes. According to the writings of Herodotus, Artemisia I of Caria was the only female commander in the Greco-Persian wars. Like in the movie, she was an ally of Xerxes and served as a commander in the Persian navy.

Did the Greek city-states really band together against the invading Persian Army?

Yes. In the 300: Rise of an Empire movie, we see Queen Gorgo of Sparta (Lena Headey) and Themistocles of Athens (Sullivan Stapleton) coming together to unite against the Persian Army. In real life, Athens and Sparta were indeed at the forefront of the alliance between the thirty Greek city-states. As the alliance took hold, Themistocles became the most powerful man in Athens.

How were the Persians able to take Athens?

Themistocles had convinced Athens to put every able-bodied man, including the Athenian warriors, on warships to stop the Persians in the Straits of Artemisium, leaving the city of Athens unprotected. Plutarch writes of the evacuation of Athens in his work Themistocles. "When the whole city of Athens were going on board, it afforded a spectacle worthy alike of pity and admiration, to see them thus send away their fathers and children before them, and, unmoved with their cries and tears, passed over into the island."


While it appears that the Parthenon (right) is burning in the movie (left), it is actually the Old Parthenon that was destroyed by the Persian forces during the invasion. The iconic Parthenon that we are familiar with was actually built several decades later to replace the Old Parthenon.

Did Themistocles win the Battle of Salamis by luring Xerxes into a trap?

Yes. Themistocles had sent a messenger to Xerxes, telling the Persian King that the Greeks intended to flee by ships that were harbored in the isthmus of Corinth. Unlike in the movie, that messenger was not Ephialtes of Trachis, the disfigured hunchback who had betrayed the Spartans at Thermopylae. The real Ephialtes, who was not a disfigured hunchback, escaped to Thessaly and the Greeks offered a reward for his death.

Thinking that the Greek forces were scattered, weak, and intending to flee, Xerxes believed the messenger and sent in his navy for an easy victory. To his surprise, his ships encountered the full force of the Greek navy ready to engage in battle.

Did Themistocles and Artemisia share a moment of violent, unbridled passion?


Artemisia (Eva Green) and Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) share a fictional moment of passion in 300: Rise of an Empire.

Was Themistocles married?

Did Xerxes watch the Battle of Salamis as he sat in his throne perched atop a cliff?

Yes. Xerxes watched the battle unfold high atop a nearby cliff on Mount Egaleo. Not shown in the movie, he witnessed Artemisia ramming another ship that had unknowingly crossed her path as she tried to get away from a pursuing Athenian trireme. Xerxes assumed it was an Athenian vessel that she had smashed through and was so impressed with Artemisia's ferocity in battle that he is reported to have said, "My men fight like women, and my women like men!" In reality and unbeknownst to Xerxes, Artemisia had bore straight through an ally ship. In doing so, Artemisia's pursuer gave up chase, believing that she was an ally of the Greeks. Fortunately for Artemisia, the ally ship sunk and its entire crew drowned, leaving no one behind to tell Xerxes the truth. -The Histories


From high atop a cliff, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) overlooks his fleet in the Straits of Salamis in the movie (left). A look from the real Mount Egaleo that overlooks the Straits of Salamis where the battle took place (right).

Did Artemisia agree with Xerxes with regard to the Battle of Salamis?

No. However, unlike in the film where Artemisia (Eva Green) demands that Xerxes order the Persian fleet to Salamis to finish off the Greeks, the real Artemisia had actually advised the Persian King Xerxes against the battle, arguing that it is not wise to engage the Greeks at sea. By this point, Xerxes had already burned the great city of Athens to the ground. Victory was within his grasp and his advisers/officers, except for Artemisia, told him that he must launch a naval assault to finish off the Greeks. Artemisia saw things differently.

"Spare your ships," Artemisia advised, "and do not risk a battle for these people are as much superior to your people in seamanship, as men to women. What so great need is there for you to incur hazard at sea? Are you not master of Athens, for which you did undertake your expedition? Is not Hellas subject to you? Not a soul now resists your advance&hellip" -The Histories

In the end, though Xerxes respected her advice, he still decided to launch a full-scale naval assault in September, 480 BC. Unfortunately for the Persians, it was the wrong decision and the Battle of Salamis proved to be the turning point in the war. Like in the 300: Rise of an Empire movie, the Persians were outmaneuvered and outfought by a Greek navy that was better prepared to wage war in the narrow straits between the mainland and the island of Salamis (known as the Straits of Salamis).

No. The 300: Rise of an Empire true story reveals that unlike what is shown in the movie, the real Artemisia did not die at the hands of Themistocles in the Battle of Salamis. She survived the battle and did not meet her fate while engaging in combat.

While Artemisia I of Caria did not perish in battle, it is unclear how she actually died. One legend reported by Photios, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 858 to 867 and from 877 to 886, has Artemisia falling in love with a man named Dardanus. According to Photios, when Dardanus rejected her, Artemisia threw herself over the rocks of Leucas and was swallowed by the Aegean Sea. However, some historians argue that this action goes against her nature as a strong-willed conqueror.

What happened to Artemisia after the Battle of Salamis?

After being on the losing side of the battle that she had advised the Persian King against, Xerxes once again sought her advice. This time he acted on it, and he returned home, abandoning his campaign.

Artemisia was entrusted with the care of Xerxes's children (the illegitimate sons he had taken on the campaign with him). She accompanied them to the town of Ephesus on the Ionian coast. Despite the Greeks continuing to engage in war for several more years, Artemisia and her people gained favor with the Persian Empire and prospered from the relationship.

Where can I read Frank Miller's graphic novel Xerxes, on which 300: Rise of an Empire is based?

As of the release of the 300: Rise of an Empire movie in March of 2014, Frank Miller had not yet completed his sequel to his 1998 comic series 300. In early 2011, Dark Horse Comics CEO Mike Richardson told ICv2 that Miller had finished two issues but had several Hollywood commitments that were keeping him from finishing the rest. These Hollywood obligations included acting as co-director for Sin City 2, due out in August 2014. The ICv2 article states that Frank Miller has every intention of finishing the Xerxes comic series.


The God King Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) in the movie (left) and Xerxes from Frank Miller's unpublished (as of the film's release) graphic novel.

Why didn't director Zack Snyder, who directed the first film, also direct Rise of an Empire?

In 2008, Variety reported that Zack Snyder, who directed 2007's 300 starring Gerard Butler, was interested in directing an adaptation of Frank Miller's follow-up graphic novel Xerxes (the original 300 movie was based on Miller's 1998 graphic novel 300). However, Zack Snyder instead chose to direct the Superman reboot Man of Steel, released in 2013. As a result, Noam Murro was brought in to direct 300: Rise of an Empire with Snyder acting as a producer and co-writer (Deadline Hollywood).

After you've finished reading our analysis of the 300: Rise of an Empire true story vs. the movie via the questions above, enjoy the related videos below, including the Rise of an Empire trailer and videos that provide a closer look at the movie's heroes and villains.

Watch an introduction to the heroes of 300: Rise of an Empire, including Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), the Greek general who took on the Persians at the battles of Marathon, Artemisium and Salamis.

Learn about the 300: Rise of an Empire villains. Catch a glimpse of the murderous Persian commander Artemisia, portrayed by Eva Green. Witness the transformation of Xerxes into a God King and see other returning villains, including the Immortals.

Actress Eva Green, who portrays naval commander Artemisia in the movie, discusses the real Artemisia and other similar female characters that inspired her performance, including Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth. The interviewer asks her what was harder, preparing for the tumultuous 300: Rise of an Empire sex scene or the movie's numerous battle sequences.

The sequel to 2007's 300 starring Gerard Butler, this installment finds Themistocles of Athens (Sullivan Stapleton) defending Greece during the second Persian invasion. This time, Xerxes I of Persia (Rodrigo Santoro) returns and is joined by Artemisia I of Caria (Eva Green), who takes on Greece in the naval engagement known as the Battle of Artemisium. In addition to Santoro, Lena Headey returns to reprise her role as Queen Gorgo of Sparta. Check out our research into the original 300 movie.


The outcome of the Battle of the Trench

Muslim won this battle very easily, Although Muslims were just 3,000 and enemy forces were 10,000 yet Muslims only suffered 1 to 5 casualties while the opponents ended up losing 80% of their army.

Enterance of Mosque Ra’yah, where Prophet Muhammad PBUH saw the light emitting from the rock. – Photo by: IslamicLandmarks

After that Muslims further conquered Banu Qurayza neighborhoods and ruled over these tribes proudly as more people from these tribes accepted Islam and later Islam flourished in this region.

Inside Mosque Ra’yah – Photo by: IslamicLandmarks

Mount Badon, battle of

Mount Badon, battle of, c. ad 500. Gildas, the chronicler of the decline of Roman Britain, attached great significance to this British victory, which he saw as giving 40 years of respite from the Saxon advance. The most likely sites are Badbury near Swindon, or Baydon near Lambourn, both on the Wiltshire downs. Gildas associated the victory with the resistance led by Ambrosius Aurelianus: Nennius in the early 9th cent. introduced the name of King Arthur and dated it 516.

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Battle of Mactan

The Battle of Mactan (Cebuano: Gubat sa Mactan, Filipino: Labanan sa Mactan Spanish: Batalla de Mactán), was fought in thePhilippines on 27 April 1521, prior to Spanish colonization. The warriors of Lapu-Lapu, a native chieftain of Mactan Island, defeated Spanish forces under the command of Ferdinand Magellan, who was killed in the battle.

On March 16, 1521 (Spanish calendar), Magellan sighted the mountains of what is now Samar while on a mission to find a westward route to the Moluccas Islands for Spain. This event marked the arrival of the first Europeans in the Archipelago. The following day, Magellan ordered his men to anchor their ships on the shores of Homonhon Island.

There, Magellan befriended Rajah Kulambu and Rajah Siagu the chieftain of Limasawa, who guided him to Cebu. He, and his queen were baptized into the Catholic faith, taking the Christian names Carlos, in honor of King Charles of Spain, and Juana, in honor of King Charles’ mother. To commemorate this event, Magellan gave Juana the Santo Niño, an image of the infant Jesus, as a symbol of their new alliance.

As a result of Magellan’s influence with Rajah Humabon, an order had been issued to the nearby chiefs that each of them were to provide food supplies for the ships, and convert to Christianity.

Most chiefs obeyed the order. However, Datu Lapu-Lapu, one of the two chiefs within the island of Mactan, was the only chieftain to show his opposition. Lapu-Lapu refused to accept the authority of Rajah Humabon in these matters. This opposition proved to be influential when Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan’s voyage chronicler, writes,

On Friday, April twenty-six, Zula, the second chief of the island of Mactan, sent one of his sons to present two goats to the captain-general, and to say that he would send him all that he had promised, but that he had not been able to send it to him because of the other chief Lapu-Lapu, who refused to obey the king of Spain.

Rajah Humabon and Datu Zula suggested that Magellan go to the island of Mactan and force his subject chieftain Datu Lapu-Lapu to comply with his orders. Magellan saw an opportunity to strengthen the existing friendship ties with the ruler of the Visaya region and agreed to help him subdue the rebellious Lapu-Lapu.

According to the documents of Italian historian Antonio Pigafetta, Magellan tried to convince Lapu-Lapu to comply with Rajah Humabon’s orders the night before the battle,

At midnight, sixty of us set out armed with corselets and helmets, together with the Christian king, the prince, some of the chief men, and twenty or thirty balanguais. [a type of Filipino boat] We reached Mactan three hours before dawn. The captain did not wish to fight then, but sent a message to the natives to the effect that if they would obey the king of Spain, recognize the Christian king as their sovereign, and pay us our tribute, he would be their friend but that if they wished otherwise, they should wait to see how our lances wounded. They replied that if we had lances they had lances of bamboo and stakes hardened with fire. [they asked us] not to proceed to attack them at once, but to wait until morning, so that they might have more men. They said that in order to induce us to go in search of them for they had dug certain pit holes between the houses in order that we might fall into them.

Pigafetta writes how Magellan deployed forty-nine armored men with swords, axes, shields, crossbows and guns, and sailed for Mactan in the morning of April 28. Filipino historians note that because of the rocky outcroppings, and coral near the beach, the Spanish soldiers could not land on Mactan. Forced to anchor their ships far from shore, Magellan could not bring his ships’ cannons to bear on Datu Lapu-Lapu’s warriors, who numbered more than 1,500.

When morning came, forty-nine of us leaped into the water up to our thighs, and walked through water for more than two cross-bow flights before we could reach the shore. The boats could not approach nearer because of certain rocks in the water. The other eleven men remained behind to guard the boats. When we reached land, [the natives] had formed in three divisions to the number of more than one thousand five hundred persons. When they saw us, they charged down upon us with exceeding loud cries… The musketeers and crossbow-men shot from a distance for about a half-hour, but uselessly…

“The Death of Magellan of 1521”.

A painting of the encounter at the Mactan Shrine. Magellan then tried to scare them off by burning some houses in what is now Buaya, known then as Bulaia.

Seeing that, the captain-general sent some men to burn their houses in order to terrify them. When they saw their houses burning, they were roused to greater fury. Two of our men were killed near the houses, while we burned twenty or thirty houses. So many of them charged down upon us that they shot the captain through the right leg with a poisoned arrow. On that account, he ordered us to retire slowly, but the men took to flight, except six or eight of us who remained with the captain. The natives shot only at our legs, for the latter were bare and so many were the spears and stones that they hurled at us, that we could offer no resistance. The mortars in the boats could not aid us as they were too far away.

Many of the warriors attacked Magellan he was wounded in the arm with a spear and in the leg by a kampilan. With this advantage, Lapu-Lapu’s troops finally overpowered and killed Magellan. He was stabbed and hacked by spears and swords. Pigafetta and the others managed to escape,

Recognizing the captain, so many turned upon him that they knocked his helmet off his head twice… An Indian hurled a bamboo spear into the captain’s face, but the latter immediately killed him with his lance, which he left in the Indian’s body. Then, trying to lay hand on sword, he could draw it out but halfway, because he had been wounded in the arm with a bamboo spear. When the natives saw that, they all hurled themselves upon him. One of them wounded him on the left leg with a large cutlass, which resembles a scimitar, only being larger. That caused the captain to fall face downward, when immediately they rushed upon him with iron and bamboo spears and with their cutlasses, until they killed our mirror, our light, our comfort, and our true guide. When they wounded him, he turned back many times to see whether we were all in the boats. Thereupon, beholding him dead, we, wounded, retreated, as best we could, to the boats, which were already pulling off…

According to Pigafetta, several of Magellan’s men were killed in battle, and a number of natives converted to Christianity who had come to their aid were killed by warriors. There are no official records of the number of casualties in the battle, although Pigafetta mentions at least 3 Christian soldiers killed including Magellan.

Magellan’s allies, Raja Humabon and Datu Zula, were said not to have taken part in the battle due to Magellan’s bidding, and they watched from a distance.

Pigafetta reports that the Christian king Raja Humabon sent a message saying that if they returned the bodies of Magellan and his crew, they would be given as much merchandise as they wished. Lapulapu’s immediate response was, “We will not give away the captain’s body for all the riches in the world, because his body is the trophy of our victory against invaders of our shore”

Some of the soldiers who survived the battle and returned to Cebu were poisoned while attending a feast given by Humabon. Magellan was succeeded by Juan Sebastián del Cano as commander of the expedition, who ordered the immediate departure after Humabon’s betrayal. Del Cano and his fleet sailed west and returned to Spain in 1522, completing the first circumnavigation of the world.

In Philippine culture

There is a spot in Mactan Island called the Mactan shrine where the battle is reenacted during its anniversary. In the same shrine, next to the Lapu-Lapu statue, there is a obelisk erected in Magellan’s honor by the Spanish colonial authorities and defaced shortly after the US military occupation of the Philippines.

Magellan is also honored for bringing Christianity to the Philippines in general and the Santo Niño (Child Jesus) to Cebu in particular. The Magellan’s Cross and the aforementioned Magellan’s shrine were erected in Cebu City and Mactan Island. Many landmarks and infrastructures all over the Philippines bear Magellan’s name, mostly using its Spanish spelling (Magallanes), which is also a widely used Filipino surname.

The inhabitants of the Sulu archipelago believe that Lapu-Lapu was a Muslim of the Tausūg people.

According to native legend, Lapu-Lapu never died but turned into stone, and has since then been guarding the seas of Mactan. Fishermen in the island city would throw coins at a stone shaped like a man as a way of asking for permission to fish in the chieftain’s territory. He had six children.

Another myth passed on by the natives concerns the statue of Lapu-Lapu erected on a pedestal at the center of the town plaza. The statue faced the old city hall building, where the mayors used to hold office it held a crossbow in the stance of appearing shoot an enemy. Some superstitious people of the city proposed to change this crossbow with a bolo, after a succession of three mayors died due to heart failure.

Another legend suggests that after the battle, Lapu-Lapu left Mactan and lived on a mountain.


Battle of Berlin


Source: By Bundesarchiv- Weinrother, Carl [CC-BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

This battle was the decisive battle in the European campaign against Nazi Germany. It resulted in the fall of Berlin and precipitated the suicide of Adolf Hitler and some of his team. Earlier in the year, Hitler had ordered troops to hold against Soviet forces in Hungary. The effort depleted German ground resources. The Soviets would attack Berlin on land and the Allies committed some air power.

Over 3 million soldiers from both sides fought there.

After the Soviet forces broke through German defenses outside Berlin, the Soviets began shelling the heart of the German government.

Did You Know?

Nazi soldiers wanted to surrender to the US or British forces rather than the Soviets fearing reprisal for cruel treatment of captured Red Army soldiers by the Germans.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

74 The Wheel of Fortune

 In 1264 when De Montfort set out from London he would have been conscious that this was a last throw after losses to the Royalists in the midlands his only chance was a decisive victory. Lewes gave him that victory, and opened a remarkable period in England's history, a period of constitutional monarchy.

The Battle of Lewes, May 1264

De Montfort led an army that was considerable smaller than the King. Estimates vary wildly, but lets go for 10,000 on the Royalist side and 5,000 with de Montfort. In addition, de Montfort had far fewer cavalry - though in the end given the terrain and the  activities of Edward, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. 

The map below by David Carpenter gives a good idea of the events of the day you can also find out more at the Sussex Archaeological Society website. 

Below is the account of the battle of Lewes by the reliable chronicler William of Rishanger:

Earl Simon passed that night without sleep, giving time, as was his habit, to divine offices and prayers and exhorting his men to make sincere confessions. Walter de Cantilupe, Bishop of Worcester, absolved them all, and commanded that for the remission of their sins they should manfully strive for justice on that day, promising to all who should die thus the entry into the heavenly kingdom.

Battle being therefore certain, at daybreak before the rising of the sun, they went out from the village of Fletching, where a great part of them had spent the night, and which was about ten miles from Lewes. Before the start earl Simon de Montfort girt Gilbert de Clare with a knight's sword.

When they had marched near the town of Lewes and were hardly two miles distant from it, Simon with his men ascended a hill and placed his chariot there in the middle of his baggage, and having purposely placed and firmly erected his standard upon it, he encircled it with many armed men. Then with his own forces he held the ground on either side and awaited the issue of events. In the chariot he set four London citizens, who a little before, when he passed the night in Southwark, had conspired to betray him. This he did as a warning.

When he had thus prudently arrayed his forces, he ordered white crosses to be sewn on their backs and breasts over their armour, so that they should be distinguished from their enemies, and to indicate that they were fighting for justice. At dawn the baronial army suddenly attacked the king's guards who had gone out to seek for food or fodder and killed many of them.

When the king therefore was sure of the coming of the barons, he soon advanced with his men, with his standards unfurled and preceded by the royal banner, portending the judgment of death, which they call the 'Dragon'. His army was divided into three parts: the first line was commanded by Edward, the king's eldest son, together with William de Valance, earl of Pembroke, and John de Warenne, earl of Surrey and Sussex the second by the king of Germany with his son Henry and the third by king Henry himself. The baronial forces were divided into four, of which the first line was given to Henry de Montfort, the second to Gilbert de Clare together with John FitzJohn, and William of Montchensy in the third were the Londoners under Nicholas Segrave while the earl himself with Thomas of Pelveston led the fourth.

Then Edward with his line rushed on his enemies with such violence that he compelled them to retreat, and many of them, to the number of sixty knights, it is said, were overwhelmed. Soon the Londoners were routed, for Edward thirsted for their blood because they had insulted his mother, and he chased them for four miles, slaughtering them most grievously. But through his absence the strength of the royalists was considerably diminished.

Meanwhile many of the mighty men of the royal army, seeing the earl's standard on the hill and thinking he was there, made their way thither and unexpectedly slew those London citizens, for they did not know that they were on their own side. In the meantime the earl and Gilbert de Clare were by no means inactive, for they smote, threw down and killed those who opposed them, endeavouring with the utmost eagerness to take the king alive. Therefore many of the king's supporters rushed together - John earl of Warenne, William de Valance, Guy de Lusignan, all the king's half brothers, Hugh Bigod and about three hundred warriors - and seeing the fierceness of the barons, fled. There were captured Richard, the king of Germany, Robert Bruce and John Comyn, who had led the Scots thither. Also King Henry had his horse wounded under him, and giving himself up to earl Simon was soon brought under guard to the priory.

There were killed on that day many Scottish barons, and a great number of the foot soldiers who came with them had their throats cut. Meanwhile Humphrey de Bohun earl of Hereford, John FitzAlan earl of Arundel, William Bardolf, Robert de Tateshale, Roger de Somery, Henry Percy and Philip Basset were taken prisoner.

But on the king's side there fell the justiciar, William of Wilton and Fulk FitzWarin, the one slain by a sword, the other drowned in the river. On the barons' side fell Ralph Haringod, baron, and William Blund the earl's standard bearer. On both sides five thousand are said to have fallen.

When Edward and those fighting with him returned from the slaughter of the Londoners, not knowing what had happened to his father, he went round the town and came to Lewes castle. When he did not find his father there, he went to Lewes priory, where he found his father and learned what had happened. Meanwhile the barons made an assault on the castle, but as those shut up in it defended themselves manfully, the barons withdrew. When Edward saw their boldness within the castle, he was greatly inspirited, and collecting his men again, he wished to continue the battle afresh. Discovering this, the barons sent arbitrators of peace, promising that they wished to treat for an effectual peace the next day.

Richard the Trichard and the song of Lewes

Here, rarely, is the voice of ordinary people, mocking the King of the Romans, Richard of Cornwall as he hid in his windmill after the battle. 

The Song of Lewes, on the other hand, is a remarkable political track, probably by a Franciscan Friar, that puts the case for kingship and hte baronial cause. 

The Mise of Lewes 

By the end of the battle, Simon was victorious and the agreement called the Mise of Lewes transferred the King and Prince Edward from the Priory at Lewes to imprisonment with de Montfort. It also committed de Montfort to arbitration to find an acceptable alternative to the Provisions of Oxford. 

The English Bishops and the failure of arbitration

Louis IXth though was not playing ball. The English Bishops tried their best, crossing to France to try to negotiate. There, the Papal Legate Ottobueno did his best to browbeat them into abandoning de Montfort, but to no avail. Incredulous and exasperated, the Legate asked them a straight question, to which he would have got the answer 'no' in every other European country - Did the bishops agree with the barons that the king of England should be compelled to accept specified councillors and strictly to follow their counsel? The bishops looked him in the eye and said 'yes'. The result was excommunication and interdict for de Montfort and de Clare. The men of Kent showed their attitude - when the bishops arrived with the papal bulls, they tore them into pieces and threw them into the sea.

The 'pride and arrogance of Lucifer'

The short period of rule by de Montfort was too troubled to give much chance for reform though true to the Provisions, De Montfort called parliament regularly, including the first parliament where burgesses were called to represent the towns and he appointed sheriffs according to the provisions. 

But on the other hand, de Montfort and his family ruthlessly and systematically built their wealth and land, so much so that at tournaments the de Montfort boys were ‘abounding in money and with and with an innumerable company of paid knights’. 

Trouble

The result was to drive de Clare from the baronial camp, disillusioned at the growth in de Montfort's power and the eclipse of his own., By April 1265 he had left court and gone to this estates in the Welsh marches, where de Montfort was forced to follow to try to repair the fences. 


Watch the video: V1 Battle 2014. All 1x1Profy Battles (June 2022).


Comments:

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