Richard Turner

Mrs. Mueller

English IV – 5

February 24, 2011

British middle ages warfare VS modern British warfare
The change of British middle ages warfare to their modern day warfare is like an iPod
update; slow but efficient. Britain during the middles ages and modern day used weapons,
warfare and tactics to defend themselves from invasions and war. They also had may different
formations and used skills and technology to their advantage. There have been many changes
and advances in the weapons, warfare and tactics from Britain’s middle ages to present day.
There are three warfare time periods they consist of tribal warfare 500-ca. 730, feudal warfare ca. 730-ca. 1200, and late medieval warfare ca. 1200 – 1500.(The Middle ages: 172) . Older forms of weapons were used during this time period such as catapults, slingshots, swords and joust. The catapults were made out of planks of wood and logs and some scraps of metal, the slings were made of elastic material; sling shots were made the same way just smaller versions. Catapults and slingshots were used to launch boulders and small missiles over walls and at enemies. Swords and joust were used on horseback by the middle ages version of a soldier; the knight. Joust were long metal lance type weapons used for knocking other knights off their horses; swords were pure metal weapons with a very sharp tip and were used for defeating or slaying other knights in tournaments. “God has instituted in our time holy wars, so that the order of knights and the crowd running in their wake, who following the example of the ancient pagans have been engaged in slaughtering one another, might find a new way of gaining salvation. “(Guibert of Nogent  ). Knights, who were raised by the ladies of the palace for seven years went to these jousting and sword fighting tournaments to prove what they have learned and earn prizes given by the queen of beauty (Ross, David web)

Medieval European armies were divided into three sections called ‘battles’ or ‘battalions.’ These battalions consisted of a vanguard a centre guard and a rear guard (Medieval Warfare-Strategy web). On the battle field the vanguard is on the right, the centre guard is in the middle and the rearguard on the left. Calvary would be arranged in many ways depending on the situation. These are many of the Calvary formations that were used; the wedge, pike formation, linear formation, Calvary charge and mass archers (Medieval Warfare-Strategy web). Each formation is used in different ways’, for example, the pike formation is a very organized formation on horses in which the knights use pikes or large spears to charge enemies, though, a Calvary charge is a very unorganized charge of rampaging knights with swords on foot. The wedge formation is a triangle used for defending all areas and mass arching was many elements, or single lines of men side by side, and columns of archers ; they all march forward simultaneously and shoot their arches when they came in contact with enemies.

Most modern artillery is known as field artillery. The soviet army has more artillery than any other nation and uses it in great numbers in action (Gander, Terry pg 28). There are two main kinds of modern artillery guns and howitzers. They were mainly two types of calibers 12mm and 152 mm. Modern weaponry also used other small arms like the browning 9mm pistol and the standard issue rifle is L85A2. They also expanded their technology and use some automatic arms as well, like the L7A2 general purpose machine gun (Gander, Terry pg 28). Anti tank weapons, used to destroy tanks, such as the LAW80 used a “Fire and forget” method where the missile does not need much guidance. The medieval slingshot has its own upgrade as well known as a hand grenade. These hand grenades were used as small explosives, soldiers would pull the grenades pin and toss it towards the area they want to blow up. Soviet weapons are simple and basic but they are strong weapons that only need minimum care. History has been the history of warfare (Godfrey Reggio web).

Present day wars are fought with mass armies and modern firearms. These armies were soldiers dressed up in fancy cloth and light under armor. The first modern war that this tactic was used was the U.S. civil war (infoplease web). They also fought in some irregular warfare formations such as guerrilla warfare. Small individual units would use ambushes or sabotages to attack a venerable target. Ambushes were tactics to where units were hidden or camouflaged and then rushed an attack at the target from where they were hiding at usually an underbrush or hilltops (answers web). Sabotages are a weakening of a target through total destruction. As the army grew larger once they landed on battle grounds they would just immediately disperse and start attacking.

Just because there are changes in the weapons from the middle ages to present day does not mean there are not also similarities. The major difference in the weaponry is the technology used to make them. For example the cannon is the modern version of a catapult, it might be made out of steel and use cannonballs instead of boulders but they both have the same initial use, to knock down walls and other nations defenses. The same thing applies to the other weapons used, for example, slingshots were a less intensive hand grenade; the only modern weapon that did not have a non upgraded version are the automatic handguns. Armies and battles or wars were also similar, the soldier is a less chivalric version of a knight. Both of them fought for their nation in a certain way, knights went to tournaments and fought for certain prizes of value for themselves and soldiers fought in wars to win various things like land for their nation. Just like the knight the soldier was also trained rigorously to gain their position in the ‘hierarchy’ (Ross, David web).

Not much change happened to the tactics and formations. By the time present day came along they basically just added a few more tactics along with formations. Formations still consisted of wedges and Calvary charges, and they also still had a certain way how soldiers lined up on the battle field. The biggest difference in the Calvary charges was the weaponry they used to charge at enemies with, though, soldiers still rode horseback. Both time eras use some type of charging attack where they attack enemies by rushing at them. In the middle ages their charging attacks was either using pikes or simple jousting; present day rushing attacks consist of guerrilla warfare, ambushes and sabotages.

Britain warfare from the Middle Ages to present day warfare has been a constant upgrade in technology. The Middle age’s three different time periods gave them a chance to learn new technology and different ways to do things; also it taught them lessons in what works and what does not. Even if it was just a change from being made of wood to steel it affected them greatly. They have improved the heavily armored knight to the light weight soldier. The little differences in the tactics and formations was not a bad thing because “Why fix something that is not broken,” they may have not won every single war or invasion but the tactics and formations that were made back in the middle ages still work very well for them. “One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one” (Agatha Christie). Every single thing brought over and made better from the middles ages to modern day is still as simple and efficient as it was in the beginning. Who knows how things will be changed in the future, or will they still remain the same?

Works Cited

Gandner, Terry. Modern Military Techniques Artillery. 1st edition. Minneapolis: 1987. Print. Chapter 12 page 28

General Sir John Hackett. WARFARE acient world. New York: 1989. Print. Pages 218-219

James Lincoln Collier. Gunpowder and weaponry. New York: 2004. Print. Page 13

Jones, Kaye. “Modern British Military Weapons” 2010. Ehow. 1999. Web.

“Medieval warfare – strategy and tactics: Encyclopedia II- Medieval warfare strategy ad tactics” Web

Nicholas Hooper and Mathew Bennett. Warfare, the middle ages. New York: 1996. Print. Pages 152-153

Ross, David. “Medieval knights and warfare” Britiain Express. Web.

The Middle Ages: Volume 4. 1st edition. New York. Print. Pages 172-176


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