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At what point did English armies become English?

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  • #16
    This probably holds part of the answer, but I haven't read it yet….

    De Gestis Regum Anglorum ("On the Deeds of the Kings of the English")
    https://archive.org/stream/williamof...ge/n5/mode/2up

    William of Malmesbury (Latin: Willelmus Malmesbiriensis; c. 1095 – c. 1143) was the foremost English historian of the 12th century. He has been ranked among the most talented English historians since Bede. Modern historian C. Warren Hollister described him as "a gifted historical scholar and an omnivorous reader, impressively well versed in the literature of classical, patristic, and earlier medieval times as well as in the writings of his own contemporaries. Indeed William may well have been the most learned man in twelfth-century Western Europe."[1]
    Maybe the first "English armies" are not to be found after the Norman Conquest - but long before
    Last edited by Snowygerry; 10 Sep 19, 04:48.
    High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
    Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

      They were distinctly "French" though, dukes of Normandy (and other French holdings) that just happened to also be Kings of England.

      Don't know when that changed exactly, John Gillingham in his "The Angevin Empire" puts it this way :



      Seen in this light, they became "English" armies when the King of England had lost most of his "French" possessions

      He also points out this little bit of (absence of) evidence that seems to support my point above, these people didn't consider their lands as "nation states" like we do :
      Great post Mr. S, thanks for the link to William of Malmsbury.
      England had a large amount of shallow vein silver ore, over 400 TONNES was paid as Danegeld. Since silver coinage fueled Medieval prosperity, Conquering England was worth a lot of risk.https://www.aditnow.co.uk/Database/?...1&records=1000

      to hold England, you needed a strong army , and to get that, you needed a national will. Maybe the land made them English...
      The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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      • #18
        Well we have a text here written in Latin in the 12th century, then translated in modern English in 1848 (?), but it appears William of Malmsbury in his narrative distinguishes Normans, English (anglorum) and French, among others.

        By 1848 of course the "Normans" had long become the "new" English and they in turn had become the "British".

        That's often the problem with tracing "national" history through the centuries, words change in meaning and use over time....
        Last edited by Snowygerry; 10 Sep 19, 08:46.
        High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
        Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by marktwain View Post

          Great post Mr. S, thanks for the link to William of Malmsbury.
          England had a large amount of shallow vein silver ore, over 400 TONNES was paid as Danegeld. Since silver coinage fueled Medieval prosperity, Conquering England was worth a lot of risk.https://www.aditnow.co.uk/Database/?...1&records=1000

          to hold England, you needed a strong army , and to get that, you needed a national will. Maybe the land made them English...
          Actually to hold England one needed a strong navy and to have that as well as an army one needed money something that the medieval English monarchs were always short of. Even with the feudal system at its height the King still needed money to wage war. Each feudal tenant would have the obligation to supply a certain quota of men to the crown but the King was expected to feed them which was not only a logistical nightmare but expensive. Large peasant based feudal armies evaporated quite quickly as men drifted away and made their way home so increasingly armies were smaller and based around expensive mercenaries either home grown or imported whose loyalty lasted no longer than the next payday
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
            . . . . He also points out this little bit of (absence of) evidence that seems to support my point above, these people didn't consider their lands as "nation states" like we do :

            Although for some 50 years (1154-1204) the Angevin Empire was the dominant polity in Western Europe, there was, so far as we know, no contemporary name for this assemblage of territories.

            When anyone wanted to refer to them there were only clumsy circumlocutions available - for example, the 'our kingdom and everything subject to our rule wherever it may be' used by Henry II, or one of his chancery clerks, in a letter to Frederick Barbarossa in 1157.
            Just slightly off topic ( ) but clearly our contemporary notion of the "nation" and/or the "nation-state" not only did not exist prior to the Renaissance, but that the concept was itself never organic, but rather invented to describe and organize the new political entities then emerging after the end of the Middle Ages. Obviously the Plantangenets, the Angevins, even the Byzantines -- among the myriad of Medieval rulers -- were able to govern territories constituted of different and disparate peoples, languages, and cultures, effectively enough so that their governments lasted not years, but centuries.

            Great find, Snowy.
            I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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            • #21
              Originally posted by MarkV View Post

              Actually to hold England one needed a strong navy and to have that as well as an army one needed money something that the medieval English monarchs were always short of. . . . .
              It wasn't just English monarchs who were chronically short of cash. Philip the Fair solved his cash flow problems by seizing the assets of the two most cash-laden demographics then residing in his kingdom: the Knights Templar, and the Jews. Of course, he needed some legal pretext in order to size their liquid assets, so he accused the Templars of blasphemy, and the Jews of . . . . well, being Jews. Thus, in a single stroke, he not only enriched his exchequer, but he also relieved himself of his outstanding debts to those two parties. Hey, it's a nice trick if you can pull it off.
              I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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              • #22
                Originally posted by slick_miester View Post

                Just slightly off topic ( ) but clearly our contemporary notion of the "nation" and/or the "nation-state" not only did not exist prior to the Renaissance, but that the concept was itself never organic, but rather invented to describe and organize the new political entities then emerging after the end of the Middle Ages. Obviously the Plantangenets, the Angevins, even the Byzantines -- among the myriad of Medieval rulers -- were able to govern territories constituted of different and disparate peoples, languages, and cultures, effectively enough so that their governments lasted not years, but centuries.

                Great find, Snowy.
                By the time of the Black Death at least some concept of the nation (or at least the identity of the people) existed. When news of the plague in France filtered through one bishop preached a sermon that this was God's punishment on the immoral loose living French but the upright moral English nation need have no fear that it would cross the Channel!
                Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                  By the time of the Black Death at least some concept of the nation (or at least the identity of the people) existed. When news of the plague in France filtered through one bishop preached a sermon that this was God's punishment on the immoral loose living French but the upright moral English nation need have no fear that it would cross the Channel!
                  I didn't know that, that the British Isles somehow managed to evade the Medieval Black Death. Guess those several hundred-thousand or so English who died with exploding sores all over 'em died of something else.
                  I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by slick_miester View Post

                    I didn't know that, that the British Isles somehow managed to evade the Medieval Black Death. Guess those several hundred-thousand or so English who died with exploding sores all over 'em died of something else.
                    Remember, they were eating English cooking.
                    "I am Groot"
                    - Groot

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Marmat View Post

                      Remember, they were eating English cooking.
                      That goes without saying, of course . . . .

                      Rimshot
                      I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Marmat View Post

                        Remember, they were eating English cooking.
                        \and if you can survive that, no bacteria can touch you....

                        true fact: the black plague was spread by fleas that live on the black, but not the Norwegian rat, rattus rattus.

                        As the Norwegian rat spread across Europe, it muscled out the black rats, whichare a relict population- and the plagues died out....
                        The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                        • #27
                          Norway rats come form south east |Asia, and are 'misnamed-
                          except for this chap:
                          Vidkun …..
                          A black and white photographic portrait of a man aged around thirty, looking slightly to his left. He is dressed in a dark suit and tie; his hair is neatly combed into a parting.
                          The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                            By the time of the Black Death at least some concept of the nation (or at least the identity of the people) existed. When news of the plague in France filtered through one bishop preached a sermon that this was God's punishment on the immoral loose living French but the upright moral English nation need have no fear that it would cross the Channel!
                            Certainly they had a sense of what you could call "national identity", the French before most, but also the Normans, and presumably the English too, as can be deduced from the fact that "the most learned man in twelfth-century Western Europe" went looking for "English" Kings all the way back to the 5th century.

                            In how far this can be applied to armies idk, "patriotic" wars were still some distance in the future….

                            Personally I doubt the English at the Battle of Crecy, fought for "England", in the sense that RAF did in 1940 for example.

                            They were professional soldiers on campaign, that just happened to be (or not) English, imho, had they lost it would not have mattered to "England", although it may have mattered to the English King
                            Last edited by Snowygerry; 11 Sep 19, 02:26.
                            High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                            Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                              Certainly they had a sense of what you could call "national identity", the French before most, but also the Normans, and presumably the English too, as can be deduced from the fact that "the most learned man in twelfth-century Western Europe" went looking for "English" Kings all the way back to the 5th century.

                              In how far this can be applied to armies idk, "patriotic" wars were still some distance in the future….

                              Personally I doubt the English at the Battle of Crecy, fought for "England", in the sense that RAF did in 1940 for example.

                              They were professional soldiers on campaign, that just happened to be (or not) English, imho, had they lost it would not have mattered to "England", although it may have mattered to the English King
                              They would have mostly spoke English and been English. Whereas the ‘English’ army that fought for Henry 1 against his brother Robert in Normandy would have been virtually entirely culturally Norman and few would have spoken English as their first language.
                              "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Surrey View Post
                                They would have mostly spoke English and been English. Whereas the ‘English’ army that fought for Henry 1 against his brother Robert in Normandy would have been virtually entirely culturally Norman and few would have spoken English as their first language.
                                That seems certain yes, although it was suggested above that a considerable part may have been Welsh iirc…

                                May also have to do with recruitment, as late as the 14th century "Flemish" armies, were led by nobles who spoke French, while most soldiers would have spoken (only) Flemish.

                                Edit, or some form of "English" and "Flemish" at least…who will tell

                                "…..the Flemmynges that woneth in the weste side of Wales haueth i-lleft auche straunge speche and speaketh Saxonliche i-know…"
                                To the 21st century eye, a sentence like this looks like a mix of modern English, Dutch and German which it probably was.

                                Page 7-8 here :

                                https://books.google.be/books?hl=nl&...ritain&f=false
                                Last edited by Snowygerry; 11 Sep 19, 04:13.
                                High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                                Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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